Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Sharing Stories with the Atlanta Community in the USA


Brenda Soutar and I were invited to join Rukia Rogers in presenting a programme to the Bagwell College of Education at the Kennesaw State University in Atlanta.  This event was held in conjunction with the International Alliance for Invitational Education as part of their focus on New Zealand education. It would be their special Spotlight Event.



For the past 35 years, Kennesaw State University has dedicated each academic year to the study of a particular country or region introducing thousands of students to the rich diversity of world cultures that make up the human family. The award-winning program plays a vital role internationalizing our campus and engaging local and global communities. Annually, it results in new courses and curriculum, research projects, education abroad programs, and global partnerships. The ACSP series of lectures, panels, performances, exhibits, seminars and conferences help students break down stereotypes, build connections across cultures, and develop the intercultural competencies needed to act responsibly in today’s complex interdependent world.

The programme for our spotlight event was as follows:


I.         Introductions and Welcome (Linda Grant and Debra Coffey)

II.        Overview of the ACSP “Year of…” Initiative (Global Education rep)



III.       The Story of Te Whriki  (History) of the Te Whriki Curriculum Approach in New Zealand (Brenda Soutar)

How did this approach to early education evolve? 

What are the social and political processes that made it possible?

Overview of Te Whāriki

What are the Principles and Strands of Te Whāriki?

How and why do these form the foundation of early education?

What is Kaupapa Theory and how is in integrated?

What is Kaupapa Assessment?



IV.       Learning Stories (Wendy Lee)

What is a Learning Story?

What is the philosophical approach called Learning Stories?

What are the key components?





V.        The Highlander School - Atlanta Interpretations of New Zealand’s Approach to Early Childhood Education (Rukia Rogers)

VI.       Closing Questions and Answers (Linda Grant/Debra Coffey)




It was an absolute pleasure to participate in this event at the Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. In particular it was inspiring to listen to Rukia Rogers from the Highlander School share stories of her place. I am including here information from their website so you get a feeling for the history and vision of the Highlander School. The conception of this school began as a conversation in the summer of 2007, surrounding the boundless possibilities of early childhood education in the Atlanta Metro Area. The school’s founder was deeply committed to creating a programme that addressed the need for quality care and innovative approaches to early childhood education, while fostering children’s awareness and respect for the environment and the natural world. They were inspired to fashion a community of learners, where children are viewed as “citizens of today.” They envision a world where every child is able to dream and reach his or her fullest potential. This optimism to leave the world better than they had found it was the inspiration for their name. The Highlander School draws on the rich and vibrant culture of the southeast and honours the Highlander Folk School of Tennessee, founded in 1932, to educate and empower adults for social change. Students such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and others flocked to the school as it acted as a safe haven for dialogue and non-violent resistance to social injustices. Their hope and illuminating dream is that The Highlander School will embody this same spirit of freedom and cultivate a community of learners who are thirsty for knowledge. I think it is safe to say that all that was shared with us on that day totally embodied the spirit of Rukia’s presentation. Quite fabulous. You can find out more about this wonderful school by visiting their website




Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Educational Leader Conference 2022

What a privilege to join the Australian Leaders Conference for their tour of six Australian cities and to share our work. It was an amazing experience to spend time with such a thoughtful group of professionals as we travelled together, working and playing as we went. This is the second time I have joined the Educational Leadership Conference with Semann and Slattery. 

These continue to be challenging times and being a leader during this tumultuous period will mean that many of the leaders have navigated difficult spaces and continue too.  I wanted to acknowledge this as well as the big picture challenges that ECE faces globally.  We all need to be advocates and activists to make the changes our sector deserves. Despite these challenges, 

I'm always astounded by the joy with which early childhood teachers work and the power with which they work, because they know that what they do, makes a difference.

Below is some detail about the presenters on this tour and also a little about what they shared. 

I found the Australian teachers to be engaged and when opportunities arose to talk to them individually they were deeply thoughtful. Many Australian teachers are writing Learning Stories and this was an opportunity to provoke some thinking around both the structure and the depth of the work being presented. 

My actual title for my contribution was 'Seize the Joy'.  

Joy is catching.If you love being with children, if you believe in the what you teach, your mokopuna will be engaged, be motivated, and will find a deep appreciation, a love, a joy for learning. It is through our Learning Stories that we can truly find and experience joy. What could be more satisfying than to share a Learning Story with the child and the whānau that truly captures the essence, the spirit of the child. It is a gift. A Learning Story that brings into view the child's learner identity in such an important way. A story that will be read and re-read for many years to come. 

The day after I finished the work, I was struck down with covid and ended up having to spend 10 days in isolation in a Perth Hotel. I cannot express enough the care and support that Semann and Slattery provided. It was truly outstanding and says an volumes for the people within this organisation. Ngā mihi Anthony and also the fabulous Vivienne for her daily care and concern. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

These gifts are for your Birthday AND Christmas!


Oh so enjoyed this Facebook post. This is the story of our childhood. I have a twin brother, we were born on Christmas Day. Prior to my Dad’s death (when I was 8 years old), my Dad and Mum made a big thing of our birthday celebrations . I have wonderful memories of magical treasure hunts in Fiji particularly, at these birthday events. My Dad would type up lists of things to collect we would find things at the beach, in the jungle, life was an adventure. We spent our childhood living in Samoa and Fiji until we were 8 years old. This was an idyllic childhood in nature. 

Mum and me at our birthday party!

Our return to New Zealand was challenging for Mum with a large family and all the challenges that come with huge changes she had to navigate to manage alone and so we returned to ‘this space’ as in the Facebook page. The twins birthday presents often preceded with a comment that your birthday/Christmas present is bigger than your siblings Christmas present, as they are for your birthday and Christmas!! 

I have to admit that I have no real memories of feeling left out no having birthday celebrations (the only memory is the one in the Facebook image focussed on the 'present') and our next significant birthday was our 21st, where all relatives gathered for such celebrations, it was a large and happy event!! 

Celebrating our 21st birthday with Mum (Peter and Wendy)

My next significant birthday celebration was when I was 40. We had returned from living in Scotland and had returned to Rotorua. Friends had a Ceilidh band called Mosstroopers that was disbanding due to members moving in different directions and they offered to play a for final Rotorua event, that was my birthday celebration. This was such fun a full weekend on marae including powhiri, staying in the wharenui, partying and dancing in the wharekai and poroporoaki to complete the Ceilidh birthday event with all families joining in!! Here are a few photos from the weekend. 

Mosstroopers extraordinaire!

All ages able to join in and enjoy the fun.

David and Patrick, both in kilts celebrating Scotland!

Everyone joined in the fun, for me an incredible night for all the whānau!

Dave and I had spend quite alot of time in Scotland enjoying 
Scottish dancing, my Grandmother Hilda McLaren would have 
been totally thrilled!! 

Well my next memorable celebration was initiated by my husband and partner Dave Rowe. I have to say after almost 45 years of marriage he never fails to surprise me with his thoughtful and rather astonishing ideas! 

It was the year of my 60th birthday and he had decided he wanted to put some fun into the celebration, given that my birthdays were generally not really celebrated. So unbeknown to me me he invented a rather fabulous idea. I share this as I think it is a pretty inspiring idea for anyone’s birthday and could be adapted in so many ways. Especially for those who have birthdays at times like Christmas or New Year, that take prominence over an individuals birthday. So it began. Six weeks before my 60th birthday he announced that the 6 ’T’s’ would begin, this would be the start of my 60th celebration leading to Christmas Day. So it was, each week another ’t’ would be revealed for me to enjoy. Each week a beautiful message was written inside a very tiny card…..The  6 ’t’s’ for my 60th birthday included:

  • T for taste - beautiful restaurant dinner
  • T for treat - off to enjoy the spa
  • T for theatre - out to enjoy a night of ‘culture’.
  • T for treasure - A fabulous Robyn Kahukiwa print
  • T for trinket - a necklace
  • T for travel - a holiday and a return to the place of my childhood.

I am now enjoying the lead into the my 70th birthday with 7 weeks of celebration - such an awesome way to enjoy a birthday. These are my first 5 ’t’s’ as I head towards Christmas Day.


Monday, November 22, 2021

Joan Brockett, much loved early childhood advocate and lecturer too many!!

Cannot believe that more than a month has passed since Joan died. A life well lived, all 94 years. So amazing. I recently found this lovely photo on my computer, taken at on of our little gatherings of Robin, Dell, Joan and me. Joan would be so humbled by all the beautiful messages that were written about her influence on our lives. I am so pleased that I wrote her a card not long before she died, giving her just a window into the impact on my life. If you know someone who has influenced you, take time to send a card. I always remember Vivian Gussin Paley telling me that she never used th internet, everything was written by hand and she would even write cards to those who lived in her neighbourhood.

Kia ora ece sisters,

“Kua hinga te Totara i te wao nui a Tane

The Totora has fallen in the forest of Tane

It is with sadness that we share with you that Joan Brocket passed away last Saturday. A woman of sharp wit, strongly held views and a woman of action. 

Joan was a staunch advocate and deeply committed to ensuring high quality early childhood education. She is fondly remembered by the many students she taught at the Kindergarten Training College in Arney Road, and then at the Auckland College of Education/University of Auckland. Her deep passion for children's literature will never be forgotten, nor her concern for children in hospital, where she was instrumental in the development of the role of hospital play specialists in New Zealand. She also advocated for better support for mothers in prison at a time when there was little policy or interest in this need.

Those of us who were members of KTA will remember Joan being so supportive and always encouraging us to speak up. For many years she was the editor of the Pre School Education journal, the magazine of the NZFKTA. Here she encouraged us to write about the political issues we faced (of which there were many), nurtured professional development and curriculum knowledge, and always there was a review of recent children's books. Joan's editorial skills made this journal highly respected in the education world.

Joan was known to many of you, and you will all have your own memories. Wendy (Lee), Adele (Graham), and Robin (Houlker) have been privileged to be regularly talking with Joan in these past few weeks. We have loved hearing her sharp mind, her enjoyment of discussion about current issues, reflections on our families and we were constantly amazed the way she made links back to events of the past and the many people who have been in her life, right up till her final few days.

Our deep condolences to Jenny, Chris and their families.

Moe mai ra, may she rest in peace


Lynne Pope

Yes an amazing woman. Lectured and supported me at Arney road in 1972. Thanks so much for posting. L

Carmel Flynn

I’m sorry to read this, what a strength and advocate Joan was for our tamariki. Rest In Peace Joan, thank you for your mahi, you helped shape the future of Aotearoa 

Margaret Barclay

Thank you Wendy for sharing. Yes I remember Joan with much fondness. She was a very special lecturer who helped many of us transition from Arney Road to the Epsom campus 1975/76. Her passion for quality children's literature has stayed with me. Oh the laughs she had with us in some very testing and trying times. RIP Joan

Chris Bayes

She was one of my heroines. Warm, kind, funny, full of life and laughter. She helped shaped me as a teacher and stood by us when we were fighting the good cause back in the day. So much love and respect. Till we meet again. x

Mandy Jackson

Moe moe mai Rā Joan we loved you as a lecturer you instilled a passion for tamariki literature that has never faded thank you thank you thank you 🙏  Ngā mihi 

Merrilyn Carson

RIP wonderful woman the world is a better place for your contrìbution.

Brian Newman

One of a line of amazing women in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood. Humbled to follow…

Frances Campbell

Rest in Peace 🙏 

Beth Blue Swadener


Lisa Terreni

I remember her as being the shining light of the programme...tolerant and kind , thoughtful and wise.

Barbara Backshall

Thank you for sharing. Such a privilege to have her as a lecturer. Learnt so much not just about Language and literacy but about respectful relationships and advocacy. Kind thoughts to family and close friend. A life well lived. 

Lyn Tischhauser


Prue Crarer

Such fond memories of her at Arney Road Teachers College. We all loved her.

Shelley Mickell

Thank you for letting us know Wendy. I loved Joan's literacy lectures as a student teacher and her book recommendations. She also worked to establish Eden Epsom Kindergarten now Epsom North. What a life of service she led.

Carol Hartley

She will be sadly missed. She inspired a love of children's books in all of us. A smile for everyone.

Helen Sola-Nanai

Sincere condolences to the family Rest in love and peace dear Joan 😔 

Dee Myhre

Thanks for Sharing Wendy I have often thought about Joan and her wonderful advocacy for ECE loved her KTA professional Development work. Love to her whānau 

Margaret Kelly

I very fondly remember Joan as a lecturer at Arney Road Training College. She was very passionate about children’s literature and story telling, very approachable as a tutor and inclusive. Rest In Peace.

Margaret Harness

Thanks Wendy for letting me with Joan's passing.

What a remarkable woman, who will be never be forgotten within the ECE movement. Joan taught me so much, especially her passion and dedication for for the love of books and literacy for all ages. May she… 

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Gaye Jurisich

💙 💚  💜 

Kim Parkinson

Omg Joan was my lecturer at Auckland College of Education and I still vividly remember her passion for children's books and for sharing her knowledge of the role literature plays in a child's learning. A lovely lady, hearts to family members ...


Suzanne Gabli

Beautiful tribute to an icon in the ECE field. Praying for her family! 

Marion Soutar

A mighty totara indeed. Thank you.xx for sharing this and reminding me.

Lesley Pohio

Joan was an amazingly astute person who was such an advocate for young children. Her understanding and promotion of broader early childhood issues reached many audiences and her impact on the many student teachers she taught was profound, particularly her passion and expertise about children's literature. Arohanui Lesley

Judy Radich

Thanks Wendy. I was taught by her in Arney Road and she certainly inspired many of us! Say hello to Adele for me!! Stay safe x 

Helen Aitken


Janette Kelly

Joan Brockett taught lots of students in Auckland who make up the ranks of fabulous feisty women in ECE. I have heard her name lots over the years. RIP Joan

Chris Bayes

I love that. Fabulous feisty woman. Two F's for Joan. xx


Adrianne Coles

She was an amazing lecturer at Arney Road and she was very passionate with her knowledge in literacy which she instilled in us all .. I still have the story book we had to write !! Rest In Peace Joan .

Diti Hill

Strong memories of talking early child

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Continuing the relationship with teachers in Kazakhstan



Приглашаем вас 3 ноября в 13:30 на онлайн вебинар по теме “Качество дошкольного образования: передовые международные практики” при поддержке проекта EL UMITI.
На вебинаре TRACY GALLAGHER (ментор нашей команды), глава интегрированного центра для детей и родителей Пен Грин в Великобритании, поделится уникальным опытом по работе с родителями.
WENDY LEE, директор проекта по образовательному лидерству в Новой Зеландии, расскажет о лучшем опыте, на мой взгляд, по оцениванию детей с помощью историй обучения и куррикулуме Te Whariki.
Профессор из Финляндии ARJA SÄÄKSLAHTI будет говорить о продвижении физической активности среди детей с вовлечением всего сообщества.
Из Литвы будет вещать AUSTĖJA LANDSBERGIENĖ, основатель сети дошкольных организаций, которая напомнит нам о важности игры и поделится своей авторской разработкой по контекстному обучению.
И наконец, Penny Lawrence, лектор по дошкольному образованию университета Роухэмптон в Великобритании, расскажет о качестве взаимоотношений, выстраиваемых при подходе Reggio Emilia.
Мне посчастливилось почти со всеми из них быть знакомой, и каждая из них это кладезь ценных знаний в области раннего развития детей. С нетерпением жду этого вебинара.
Участие в вебинаре бесплатное, будет обеспечен синхронный перевод.
Подробная информация о вебинаре по ссылке
Dear friends!
We invite you to an online webinar on “Quality of preschool education: advanced international practices” on November 3 at 1:30 pm, supported by the EL UMITI project.
At the webinar TRACY GALLAGHER (our team mentor), Penn Green, head of the Integrated Centre for Children and Parents in the UK, will share his unique experience working with parents.
WENDY LEE, director of the New Zealand Educational Leadership Project, will talk about the best experience in evaluating children through Te Whariki's learning stories and curriculum.
A professor from Finland ARJA S ÄÄKSLAHTI will talk about promoting physical activity among children with community involvement.
AUST ĖJA LANDSBERGIEN Ė, the founder of a network of preschool organizations, who will remind us of the importance of the game and will share his author's development on contextual learning.
And finally, Penny Lawrence, a lecturer on preschool education at Rohampton University in the UK, will talk about the quality of the relationships built with Reggio Emilia's approach.
I have been lucky enough to know almost all of them, and each of them is a treasure of valuable knowledge in the field of early childhood development. Looking forward to this webinar.
Participation in the webinar is free, synchronous translation will be provided.
Detailed information about the webinar at .