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Our name says it all. We put children first.
That's because the early years are so very important.
Kei te ingoa tonu ngā kōrero katoa. Ko te tamaiti te mea nui ki a mātou. Te take i pērā ai, he mōhio ki te hira o ngā tau tuatahi.
Formerly known as the Canterbury Westland Kindergarten Association - Mo Nga Tamariki Me Nga Whanau o Waitaha Me Tai Poutini - we are one of New Zealand's largest and longest serving early childhood education providers.
We have undergone some big changes in recent years to give Kidsfirst the strong base necessary to remain a pre-eminent provider of quality early childhood education.
Our staff of more than 400 includes 100% qualified and registered early childhood teachers. It's one of the things that makes us special.
Kidsfirst has always been an innovator and we are keen to look forward, while still recognising where we have been and the special attributes that need to be protected for generations to come.
Everything Kidsfirst does is guided by its vision proposition: Teachers, Whānau, neighbourhoods - children at the heart of amazing learning.
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KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS IS ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S LARGEST AND MOST SUCCESSFUL EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROVIDERS.
The Canterbury Westland Kindergarten Association (Inc) was established in 1911 – but kindergarten in our regions goes all the way back to the 1880s.
Today, you’ll find most Canterbury and West Coast kindergartens operate under the banner of Kidsfirst, an incorporated society with charitable status. There are close to 70 Kidsfirst Kindergartens across our regions.
This is a not-for-profit organisation that melds a commercial approach and with a social conscience, sustaining and growing what we believe to be the very best early childhood education on offer.
As family life in New Zealand evolves and changes, the drive for community has never been stronger.
For more than 100 years, kindergarten has provided education to our youngest learners – but it has also become an important connection point for families, whānau, and the wider community.
We are at the heart of neighbourhoods, and at the heart of the ECE sector.
Even though Kidsfirst is a not-for-profit organisation, we operate within a highly commercial, competitive environment.
We’re leaders. Locally. Nationally. Internationally.
We meet the demands of new generations of parents, but never forget the rich heritage that has made kindergarten one of New Zealand’s most beloved traditions. Kidsfirst is a strategically-driven organisation, always planning ahead and looking for innovative ways to grow our presence and market share.
This is not the kindergarten of your childhood.
We’ve come a long way.
Today Kidsfirst is a sophisticated organisation with a strong focus on quality education, superb systems and processes, a robust operating and administrative structure and clear strategic focus.
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Kidsfirst is fortunate to have a Board of Directors made up of talented people from the educational sector, business world and community.
Seconded members make up any expertise gaps that we may have. Kidsfirst is a not-for-profit organisation, but we understand the value of the commercial perspective, especially since we operate in an extremely competitive marketplace.
Members are nominated and elected at our Annual General Meeting, held in the second quarter of each calendar year.
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The Kidsfirst Kindergartens Board comprises:
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Some more about Viv:
Kia ora, ko Viv Ruth tōku ingoa, and I am currently the Chair of the Kidsfirst Kindergartens Board. I began my career in education as a kindergarten teacher and have held many roles across the education sector working in special education tertiary and research positions. I spent five years lecturing at the Christchurch College of Education in the ECE Teacher Training programme and then moved to the Ministry of Education in Wellington, overseeing the national professional development programmes for Early Childhood.
In 2011 I took on the role of South Island Early Childhood Education Manager at the Ministry of Education in Christchurch, leading a team who were responsible for regulatory compliance, and for the delivery of the government’s ECE participation initiatives. In the past few of years I have managed South Island disability contracts for the Ministry of Health.
I am extremely privileged to be part of the Kidsfirst Board, providing governance to such a quality, focused organisation during very challenging and exciting times.
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Some more about Philip...
Ko Puketeraki tōku maunga
Ko Rakahuri tōku awa
Nō Ōtautahi ahau
Ko Phillip Roth tōku ingoa
Although I was born in Sydney, my whānau and I are proud to call Ōtautahi home. My expertise is in business development for both commercial and Not-for-Profit enterprises and I am passionate about quality governance, growth planning & advisory boards.
I am active and enjoy working with a number of Māori businesses across Te Waipounamu- working in association with Te Puni Kōkiri.
- Business Development for Commerical & Not-for-profit
- Governance Training & Development
- Strategy Development & Growth Planning
- Advisory Boards
- Māori Business
- Food Retail
- Manufacturing and Engineering
- Transport & Logistics
Some more about Luke:
My name is Luke van den Broek and I am a current member of the Kidsfirst Kindergartens Board. I work as a Registered Valuer where I enjoy a balance of office and field work. I am currently the President and Board Chairman of the Property Institute of New Zealand. In 2017 I was named the Property Institute of New Zealand Young Professional of the year. I hold a Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) from Massey University. I am also working towards a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Canterbury.
My vision for the future of Kidsfirst is for it to continue to be an excellent, community focussed provider of education to our young people. To achieve this the Board will need to continue evolving, planning and strategising, to realise Kidsfirst’s vision of amazing learning. The vision must be underpinned by having children at the heart of all decisions we make as an organisation.
I would like to protect the legacy of our iconic kindergarten brand, by ensuring that Kidsfirst Kindergartens are accessible, whilst providing equitable learning opportunities and quality education for all children. I would like to protect the sense of community engagement and the support networks kindergartens create. It is ours to protect and nurture, now and into the future.
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Some more about Erin:
I joined the Kidsfirst Board in 2017 after sitting on the COKA board for a number of years. I was also on the establishment committee committed to providing early childhood education to the Maniototo region. I have a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning and a diploma in Special Teaching Needs. I live in the “Styx”, Central Otago, with my husband Simon and out three children. We own a sheep, beef and deer farm. I enjoy working alongside a board that is committed to ensuring the longevity of Kidsfirst Kindergartens.
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Some more about Dianne:
Tena koutou e ngā maunga tapu o ngā hau e whā. Mai i te tihi teitei o tōku maunga tū mārō ki tō maunga whakahirahira, ka mihi atu au ki a koutou katoa. Ko Hikurangi, ko Tawhitinui ngā maunga, ko Waiapu, ko Tauranga ngā awa, ko Ngāti Pōrou, ko Te Whānau-a-Apanui ngā iwi. Ko Matapapa tōku hau kāinga. Ko Collier te ingoa whānau. Ko Hune Waaka rāua ko Trevor Collier ōku mātua, ko Fayne Robinson tōku hoa tane, nō Ngāi Tahu ia, ko Dianne Collier tōku ingoa.
I came to the Kidsfirst Board in 2017 with governance experience in the pre-school, primary and secondary school sectors. As a former licensee of a Kōhanga Reo in Rotorua, I have a clear view of what culturally-responsive early childhood experiences best look like, and hope to influence a change from within. My teaching experience has always been in the immersion or bi-lingual settings from Rotorua to Tuahiwi, and more recently my five years’ experience in education facilitator roles at both UC and with the Ngai Tāhu Māori Achievement Strategy “Mātauraka Mahaanui”.
Hailing from Gisborne, I also spent a chunk of my early life under the watchful eyes of my grandparents in Waihau Bay on the East Coast. This isolated life had a peace and cultural depth that has continued to influence my life, my whānau and now, my career and aspirations in education.
I brought up my four tamariki steeped in strong whānau values, through our culture, with te reo Māori being their first language and tikanga Māori at the forefront. This affirms my personal beliefs around education; provide a culturally safe environment for all of our tamariki mokopuna, for their safety, security and success in life. As Kidsfirst strongly affirms the “child at the centre”, it’s a great starting point.
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Some more about Ashleigh:
I have a passion for child development and an experienced background in the Education sector. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Human Services and Education and Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Primary).
During my time teaching I've carried out various roles including Special Education Needs Co-ordinator. This has reinforced for me how important it is to value diversity and equal opportunities for all tamariki in Education.
In recent years I have become a shareholder of a successful consultancy firm and have had two children. In 2018 our family joined the Kidsfirst community and I saw an opportunity to become involved in the organisation. Knowing tamariki are paramount in all decision-making, knowing Kidsfirst staff are fully qualified, and knowing individual interests are well supported encouraged me to join the board. I want to see the rich history of Kidsfirst flourish in the 21st Century and for families to see it as their number one choice, and for our passionate, innovative staff to access professional development will provide tamariki with the highest quality education.
Kidsfirst Kindergartens Chief Executive:
Sherryll Wilson read more
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Some more about Sherryll...
After more than 25 years, my passion for what we are able to achieve for tamariki and their whanau has never been stronger than it is today. Now with two grandchildren, I have become even more committed to ensure that we, as an organisation, live up to our promise of being the very best that we can be for the tamariki that attend our kindergartens on any given day.
I have been privileged to head Kidsfirst Kindergartens since May 1995 after extensive experience in the education sector.
I am a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, member of the New Zealand Institute of Management as well as representing Kidsfirst Kindergartens on various organisations, working groups and committees both locally and throughout New Zealand.
The early childhood sector is continually changing and providing even more challenges and I am proud to be part of an organisation that shares the same determination that early childhood education is so very important to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.
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Manager Business Development
Dip Bus: FMgmt
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Some more about Karyn:
I completed my Master of Science (Hons) majoring in Personnel and Organizational Psychology in 1991 and have since supplemented that qualification with a Diploma in Public Sector Accounting and a Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety.
My working career over the past 25 years has always been in the people field and within the service sector working with large and complex organisations such as NZ Police, CDHB and a private international engineering organisation before coming to Kidsfirst nearly 10 years ago.
My role is busy and varied but allows me to interact with staff and statistics on a daily basis – two of my favourite things! That along with knowing that this organisation is a not-for-profit, with strong community values makes this the perfect role.
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Some more about Jenny:
Kia ora, ko Jenny Pitama tōku ingoa, no Kaiapoi ahau. I began my career in early childhood education 25 years ago as a parent on the governance committee of our local community-based preschool, driven by a strong desire to see my child and his peers develop a life-long love for learning which would provide a platform for success in later life.
I was a Senior Adviser in the Ministry of Education ECE team for 11 years, predominantly working in and with communities to develop and implement projects to increase participation in ECE across Te Waipounamu. I began my business development role at Kidsfirst in 2014, having established a great respect for the way the Kidsfirst Board and Strategic Leadership Team operates during my time with the Ministry of Education. My role here since 2014 focusses on strategies to ensure that Kindergarten thrives and grows in our regions, and succeeds as a not-for-profit provider in a commercial market.
That drive for achieving educational success for all children which began 25 years ago has not changed, and knowing that the contribution we make as a senior leadership team at Kidsfirst can make huge difference in the lives of tamariki and whānau is what I love about Kidsfirst.
Kidsfirst Kindergartens have a set of organisational values that provide touchstones for everything we do. It's about how we do things as much as what we do - these are values to work by, that fashion our behaviours as individuals and as an organisation.
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We're proud to say we're now more than 100 years old, or should we say 100 years young as we did for our centenary a few years back. The focus for the years ahead is on ensuring we can continue to offer the highest quality early childhood education to generations to come.
Generations of New Zealand children have loved being kindy kids - getting a great West Coast, Canterbury or Christchurch preschool start through the joy of play and unique learning opportunities. In fact, kindergarten is a slice of Kiwi culture, where children make friends that can stay with them for life.
Our oldest kindergarten opened in 1899 and is now known as Kidsfirst Kindergartens Sunbeam. Today, more than 60 Kidsfirst Kindergartens provide high quality, teacher-led services to about 3,500 children across Canterbury and Westland.
We’re so very proud of that heritage and, of course, of being right at the heart of your community. This is our neighbourhood. Our kindergartens are surrounded by houses and homes and families. We’ve been here for over a hundred years helping local kids to grow and develop.