Reggio Emilia Manawatu


REM is a group of individuals interested in the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia and how it relates to our context here in Aotearoa NZ. We established in 2013. Our focus is on bringing Reggio inspired professional learning and development opportunities to the Manawatū. We usually host 2-3 larger events per year and have an established reading group. If you wish to join our mailing list, please email our secretary.

Brenda Soutar

is Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Awa. She is a leader at Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North and has been interested in the Reggio Emilia approach since her first visit to Italy in 1999. Since then Brenda has encouraged a Mana Tamariki team journey to strengthen understanding of the Reggio Emilia approach as seen through an Aotearoa NZ and kaupapa Māori lens.  Brenda currently holds the position of Kaiārahi for REM (guiding tikanga and kaupapa Māori).

Chrissy Lepper

Chrissy is the director of LEAP Education and works in PLD advisory and programme support. She shares the communications, promotions and marketing role on the REM committee. She also brings lots of frivolity to our committee as our offical glitter sprinkler. 

Jo Dean

Jo is an experienced early childhood teacher with a background in textile and design. She is currently Head Teacher at the Secret Garden (Feilding). She is passionate about the Arts and particularly visual arts. She holds a belief in life long learning and is currently completing her PhD at the University of Melbourne. Jo shares the marketing and communications role on the REM committee. 

Karen Laird

Karen has been on the REM committee since it was developed at the end of 2013. She has many years of experience in early childhood education beginning her journey at Playcentre with her own children. She is the Curriculum Leader for over two year old children at Massey Child Care Centre and enjoys being a part of the 6-60 choir.

Marie Morgan

Marie is experienced in early childhood education and primary teaching, She is currently teaching in the junior team at Winchester School implementing play based learning. Her passions are art and collecting vintage treasures of all kinds. 

Maria Wipaki

is Ngāti Whitikaupeka, born and raised in Taihape on their whānau farm. She is lead administrator at Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North and was previously a kaiako. Miria’s initial interest in the Reggio Emilia approach more than 20 years ago was part of a Mana Tamariki team journey that began with readings, conversations and eventually the privilege of attending an international study tour. Miria is the current REM treasurer.

Susan Claire

Suz is a Senior Leader at Massey Child Care Centre in Palmerston North.  Her Reggio Emilia journey started over 18 years ago after two colleagues went to a Reggio conference in Auckland.  After years of readings, attending national Reggio Emilia inspired professional development, in 2016 Suz had the privilege of attending a conference in Reggio Emilia.  Suz is currently the REM coordinator. 


Vicki Gifkins

Vicki currently works part time as a research co-ordinator and programme tutor at Massey University. She has had a special interest in the Reggio Approach through out her teaching career. She is currently the secretary on the REM committee.