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Try to catch Kidsfirst Board Chair Carolyne Grant with some free time and you’ll soon see for yourself just how engaged she is with all the many and varied aspects of her life.






Previously a high-flying UK marketing executive, she has transitioned from a whirlwind career into an equally busy family life, whilst still keeping active in the professional world by doing consulting work when time allows and by serving on two Boards focusing on areas she is passionate about.


Kidsfirst is fortunate that it happens to be one of those (the other is The Champion Centre, an organisation that Carolyne describes as the ‘hidden jewel’ in Canterbury’s crown) and also that she has been able to find the time to step into the role of Chair after Jan Forsyth finished her five-year term. 


Originally from the UK, Carolyne and her husband Pete (a Kiwi), who has his own building company, decided to stay in New Zealand after originally coming out here over the period she was away on maternity leave and due to give birth to her second child.


Ten years on and now a mum of four, life couldn’t be more different for Carolyne. After the move to New Zealand she took on a National sponsorship role and later a local fundraising job, first for the Export New Zealand awards, then for Ronald McDonald House South Island, where she won a global innovation award for the promotion 'The House that Love Built.'


However the birth of James, her fourth child, and the demands of her husband’s growing business finally led to a change of focus.


“The Export Awards job had me working all over New Zealand, so it was a great way to see the country. Ronald McDonald House South Island meant a lot of evening work and some travel. It was time for a change of focus. I wanted more balance and to be able to do things like coach my daughter’s netball team!”


All four of Carolyne’s children have been ‘kindy kids’, and James has just started school.


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ABOVE: Angus (12) and James (5) Grant.


“With children, my passion changed from having a fast-paced career to a manageable job balanced with family life. I really wanted to put my best into them and kindergarten was part of that. I’m genuine when I say this - I absolutely marvelled at the experience that was available at kindergarten for my children. To the point where I bent over backwards to give them the kindergarten experience when it was sessional and I was working 20-30 hours per week.”


“It’s absolutely the best early childhood educational experience and gateway to the local school. The teachers, the environments…and it is always, always about the children.”


Carolyne says the friendly, ‘kiwi’ aspects of kindergarten are something that she cherished as a kindergarten parent.


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ABOVE: Catherine Grant (8).


“They’re all things that helped our children flourish and shine. We live on a street that has a kindergarten at the end of it. For my children, it was as natural to go there as it was to play in their own backyard.”


“They got confidence and social skills beyond anything I could have imagined. They learned to manage themselves at an early stage - like choosing their own play and when to have Kai. You’d just never get that in a bigger centre, and the small size mattered to me. It’s about them being able to be individuals, growing and taking risks.”

Balancing a busy family life with work and Board commitments keeps Carolyne on her toes. "Life is busy, but busy in a good way. I really enjoy the challenge of my work and love that it still allows me time with the kids."


“Work responsibilities and the demands of parenting can be tricky roles to juggle at times, especially when life throws you a curveball or things aren’t quite going the way you’d want them to. But I have learnt, one door closes and another opens. I think it’s the biggest thing we can teach our kids - showing them to roll with it - along with valuing what is important in life. Family, friends, good people. I’ve learned a lot from my wonderful nephew, who currently attends The Champion Centre. He is an inspiration and has taught me to appreciate the small things, and I really want to celebrate and remain thankful for that.”


“No matter how great the challenge, there is always a solution. You can always make something work, and nothing is too hard. Especially if you’re part of a team, with other minds around you. You’ll always come to a good conclusion, and it helps everyone to stay engaged.”


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ABOVE: Josie Grant (10).


It’s no surprise, given her outlook on life, that the Kidsfirst values matter a great deal to Carolyne.


“It was even more precious to me, when we first came out from the UK and I had to be quite self-reliant, to be the ‘quilt’. I had to rely on new friends, when the children were young. Kindergarten gave me that network. Being a kindergarten parent also showed me how important the staff are. Our first priority is the children, but without the teachers and staff who support them, nothing happens. The teachers hold the children so close to their hearts, and really share that passion. Children engage with learning so long as teachers are happy, fresh, and the environment is good. Keeping staff developed professionally and making sure they know they are valued, is important.”


“I think we are the best employer in the ECE sector, and it’s something I want us to keep striving for.”




The Chair of Kidsfirst Kindergarten's Board,

Carolyne Grant, explains

what the role means to her.



 ABOVE: Carolyne Grant.



“I think we are the best employer in the ECE sector, and it’s something I want us to keep striving for.” 








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