The name "Whanau Manaaki" simply translated means "the caring family", and this concept encapsulates the underlying philosophy of our association.  It also very much describes the environment in which staff at Whānau Manaaki work.

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi | With your basket and my basket the people will thrive

Everyone, from our community navigators, our transport team, our teachers, our administrators, our kindergarten-based students, our office staff, and our relievers, to our senior management team plays a part in making sure He Whānau Manaaki continues its proud tradition of serving children, families and communities.  

Introduced below, are the members of the Senior Leadership Team who oversee the associations operations and over 1000 staff members.

Chief Executive Officer

Amanda Coulston

Amanda has held the position of CEO of He Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens since it was formed in 2014. Previously she headed the Wellington Region Free Kindergarten Association, after a background in teaching and two terms as National President of the Education Union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

She is proud to head a Senior Leadership Team that is committed to supporting communities in a holistic way and speaking up for children and families at a national level.

Chief Operating Officer

Amy Weightman

Amy ensures that our Association is well equipped to plan for and respond to the changing circumstances, challenges, and opportunities we face. Prior to her appointment on the staff, Amy contributed to our Association as a parent and as a Member and Chair of our governance Board. 

Amy has a strong background in strategic planning and governance and her focus as the Chief Operations Officer is to ensure that our systems, processes, strategic planning and leadership is sustainable and scalable. She believes the Association genuinely lives its values and is excited to help to create an enabling environment for our kindergartens to deliver for children, their whānau and their communities to grow and learn. Ahakoa he iti te matakahi, ka pakaru i a ia te tōtara.

Chief Financial Officer

Brendon Fyfe-Gits

Brendon oversees the association finances and ensures that our association is in compliance with New Zealand financial reporting standards for Not-For-Profit Entities.

He also oversees our Finance Team, who are responsible for the day-to-day financial operations of the organisation, including its 108 kindergartens, its homebased services and various government contracts that support our communities.   

When not at work Brendon enjoys spending time with his wife (a kindergarten teacher) and his three teenage children and playing golf.

Chief People Officer

Karen Skett

Karen enjoys the positive ethos of Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens and helping to make it a great place to work for an increasingly diverse group of people.

She finds it hugely satisfying to be able to support teachers in creating great places for children and whānau. 

Karen has taught at many Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens as a Teacher, Head Teacher and Senior teacher. Her human resources skills and experience were gained through an HR qualification, as well as while working with NZEI Te Riu Roa, the union for ECE teachers.

Community Services Lead

Caroline Mareko

Caroline Mareko is a well-known champion for Pacific peoples, and in 2020 received the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Pacific community and education. She chairs several Pasifika focused boards and has held positions on boards, councils, and organisations that promote the health and well-being of the Pacific community.

Caroline has a background in education and has been a Teacher and worked for the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office.

Kaitiaki o Kaupapa Māori

Louana Fruean

Tēnā koutou katoa, talofa Lava. Te taha o tōku māmā – No Hāmoa tōku pāpā. Ko Tokomaru rāua ko. Takitimu ōku waka. Ko Taranaki rāua ko Tararua ōku mounga. Ko Waiongana rāua ko Ruamahanga ōku awa. Ko Te Atiawa rāua ko Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa ōku iwi. Ko Puketapu rātou, ko Rangitane, ko Ngati Te whiti ōku hapū. Ko Muru Raupatu rātou ko Owae Whaitara,  ko Pāpāwai ōku marae. No Taranaki rāua ko Wairarapa ahau.

E rua ngā tamariki ahau, Ko Waiongana rāua ko Pēkere. E rua ngā kuri. Kotahi te ngeru. I am passionate about learning outcomes for tamariki and their whānau. Te Ao Māori is the lens I use to guide all curriculum from the top down.

Ako is the vehicle I use as a kaiako to nurture ngā hononga. Sustainability/Kaitiakitanga for me is crucial in understanding and articulating our way forward.