Board of Trustees

Moana Barr, Whanau Trustee

Kia Ora

I have 3 children, Anahera (19), Aedan (10) and one of which Isaiah (15), a year 11 student, is in his first year here at Ao Tawhiti.

I have a strong affinity with the Agricultural sector which has developed in the past 10 years due to finding my feet in the Selwyn district and within my job at Ravensdown.

As a family we had heard of Ao Tawhiti several years ago and found that learning driven by the child was the best place for my son and maybe even my youngest when his time comes. I feel that this environment is something that should be celebrated and its success shouted from every roof top in the CBD.

I hope to be able to bring ideas and thoughts from the Whanau group and share things that we feel will make a great positive cultural impact on everyone in the community.

legoracleAndrew Dean, Parent Trustee

Howdy, I’m Andrew Dean.

It is without hyperbole that I can say that Ao Tawhiti has changed my life.  The most important way has been giving my son an environment that has sparked him to love learning and feel comfortable being as weird as he needs.  I joined the board not to change things, but to help nurture and protect the unique character of a school that my son wakes up every morning genuinely excited to attend.

The second way Ao Tawhiti has changed my life has been somewhat surreal.  Working in the tv/film industry I had lots of spare time and chose to put it into the school supporting whatever the LA’s needed.  I wasn’t at all comfortable around kids or teaching, but attempted to embrace the “everybody is a teacher/everybody is a learner” mantra by taking risks and running workshops on subjects I knew nothing about.  One of kids asked me to run a workshop on microcontrollers, and despite knowing nothing at all about circuitry or programming, the LA bought some resources and said “all you need is to be willing to learn with the kids”.  She was right.  I was usually only a few steps/hours ahead of the kids, but I was enjoying learning as much as they were. So many kids asked to join the workshop that it went on to become loads of full day PINs across a year or two.  Its a blur exactly how it happened, but over that time I got so deep in microcontroller projects with the kids that I ended up quitting my 29 year career and instead I now work at Codebreakers designing and building escape room puzzles for a living.  I love what I do and its all because some kids asked for help, the school provided the resources and the LA said “have a go!” 

I deeply want all Ao Tawhiti kids to feel the same control and opportunity to define their future as I have had.  There is nothing more liberating than the opportunity to “do” something you genuinely enjoy, and everything I do on the board is intended to support that ideal. I want us to help kids find a passion, use it to learn how to learn, then fuel that learning to push the passion as far as it can go. 

Dr Karen Grant, Parent Trustee, Deputy Board Chair, Member EOTC, Finance Subcommittees

Kia ora,

I am a parent of two students at Ao Tawhiti. My children have always loved learning and are very driven to develop his own projects and are delighted that they can do this in school time. I’m a strong supporter of the Special Character of Ao Tawhiti and value the importance of good communication between school and parents/students.

I have served on a number of Committees/Boards previously, including the Opawa/St Martins Plunket Toy Library Committee (during a turbulent post-earthquake period of transition into new premises after earthquake damage) and the National Council of Home Educators New Zealand.

I have a science PhD and several years of scientific research and tertiary education experience. Having been self-employed for the past 10 years, I have a variety of other skills including administration and running my own business.

Our family has had the opportunity to experience a variety of educational styles in a variety of different settings so we very much appreciate the importance of Ao Tawhiti’s Special Character.

Evan Kidd, Parent Trustee, Finance subcommittee

EvanI am a Parent of a Year 11 student at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery and have been involved with the school for the last five years. We chose this school with our son as we strongly believe in the special character and philosophy of the school. Every child is unique, student centred learning provides the ability to meet each of their needs to ensure meaningful learning and motivated learners. Our son is thriving in this environment and I am standing for the Board of Trustees as I am committed to ensuring the continued success of Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery going forward.

I work as a Management Accountant at Christchurch Hospital, for the CDHB. I manage the Operational Financial Accounting Team for Christchurch Campus.

I have been involved in Education for the last 16 years, as joint owner and operator of Kiddz Homebased Childcare. Through this I have been involved with the NZ Home based Childcare Association over the last 16 years. I currently hold the position of President of the Association. This role includes advocating at Ministerial and Operational Policy Level within the Ministry of Education.

I currently represent the NZ Home based Childcare Association at the Ministerial Cross Sector Forum which includes all levels of the Education Sector from Early Childhood through to Tertiary, as well as Employer/Employee Organisations.

I am a member of the Early Childhood Advisory Committee which is a policy advisory group on Early Childhood Education to the Ministry of Education.

I see the challenge ahead for Ao Tawhiti is merging into a single site while staying true to our special character. I am committed to using my skills and connections to ensure we are well informed of progress and to ensure this happens in a timely manner. It’s time now to stand up and be strong together as a school to ensure the longevity of Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery.

Sarah Marshall, Staff Trustee, Member Finance, Fundraising Subcommittees

Kia ora whanau

I feel very privileged to have been elected as the staff representative on the Ao Tawhiti Board of Trustees. I have been at this school since 2013, and I have worked with all year levels at some stage over the years. I am a Community Leader who is based on the fourth floor.

I am an organised person with a passion for positive change. I’m looking forward to putting all our school principles into action now we are in the city and fostering old traditions while making new ones. I enjoy working with the board to ensure high quality communication and transparency for our children, staff and community.

timmckayTim McKay, Discovery Learning Trust Trustee

I went through both Discovery 1 and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti as well. Having experienced the pleasure of growing up through the schools, I know how great it can be but also some of the challenges that can arise trying to live to the special character. As such, my primary interest is ensuring that the school lives up to the special character that makes it so unique and exciting. I also believe passionately in the diverse opportunity Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery offers the students. I feel strongly about the board’s role as guardians of this special character, and will strive to protect and enhance it.

Anita Yarwood, Director

Kia ora

I am Anita Yarwood, the Director of Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery.

I started at this kura in 2021 and feel privileged to work with the students, staff and whānau within this community.  I am committed to upholding the special character of Ao Tawhiti to ensure that all students are able to be central in directing their own learning.

I have worked in education for twenty one years teaching at a range of schools in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. My experience has taught me that education is most effective when learners and whānau work together with schools to develop programmes that are personalised so children and young adults are achieving success that is relevant and important to their lives. I believe that Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery is a school that creates exciting opportunities for learners and I am honoured to be a part of this community. 

Vacant, Parent Trustee
Danette Wereta, Parent Trustee and Board Chair, Member all subcommittees

Tēna Koutou

My name is Danette Wereta and I’m Maakye Weretas Mum.  He started at AO Tawhiti at the beginning of 2019 as Year 7 As a family, we invested our time in understanding the education system.  We are now incredibly grateful to be part of the AO Tawhiti whanau.  Through our journey, we know the importance of finding students’ passions, engaging them in learning and building strong relationships with teachers and peers.  It’s great to know that students are learning their strengths and value.  This will help them find their purpose and place in the community – which is something that people can struggle with, even later in the workplace.

What will I bring to the board? My personal experience, passion and dedication.  My integrity, honesty, and my focus to achieve the best outcomes for AO Tawhiti.

My work profile:

Danette is an accomplished and highly respected senior leader and subject matter specialist in planning, developing and implementing customer operational strategies, diagnostics and business process re-engineering efforts.

She specialises in leadership, strategy, culture, change management and customer engagement and has 16 years of functional experience, working in numerous industries in New Zealand and Australia, including financial services, government, sales and distribution.

Danette is a recognised thought leader with noted success in producing high performing teams.  She has designed, developed and delivered multi-dimensional cross-functional solutions to business, bringing together strategy, business process design, organisational design and change management.  She brings a deep understanding of engaged and empowered teams, constructive culture and innovative business process.

Danette is passionate about creating value, making a sustainable difference and challenging the status quo.  She is compassionate, open, honest and thrives on collaboration, to think differently and try things a new way.

Qualifications and accreditations: Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Dom Wilson, Student Trustee, Member Finance, Fundraising, Student Innovation Fund Subcommittees

Kia ora all! My name is Dom Wilson.  I am very excited and super privileged to be your elected student representative for the 2020-2021 year.

I am currently a year 12 student here at Ao Tawhiti. I am super passionate about everything this school has to offer students in regards to leading their own learning and enjoying their educational experience!

Among other things, I have had over four years experience in the not-for-profit sector, working with Government and other NGO’s on governance, employment, finance and engagement. I am really eager to be able to use this past experience I have gained, in the  role of Student Representative. 

Over my term, I’ll be looking at ways of increasing engagement with students on the governance based work that the board does, as well as working to educate more students on what the board actually does, and how it works. 

I think another important aspect of the role is working with staff on certain projects that come under day to day management of the school. Specifically looking at increasing student leadership programs and other things that the school could offer. 

The Board is here to work for and listen to you as students, staff, or parents. So please don’t be afraid to get in touch with me to share your thoughts, feedback or anything else! You can email me at