Our New Zealand Team

Meet our experienced team

Ali Robinson

Alison Robinson

Accredited Consultant  

Alison joined Cognition in 2014 and is currently a consultant based in Northland. Prior to this she worked in the primary sector for 25 years and has lead curriculum teams in numeracy, literacy and physical education. She has held several leadership positions within her career and believes in developing a strong relational trust with all stakeholders to raise student achievement for all learners. Her recent work has been working with Northland school leaders and teachers to develop in-depth and flexible mathematics professional learning.

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Barbara Reid

Barbara Reid

Accredited Consultant  

Barbara is an accredited facilitator based in Hamilton specialising in Digital Fluency and Digital Technologies. She has extensive experience working in primary schools both as a teacher, senior leader and ICTPD cluster facilitator. Barbara continues to support teachers and school leaders through delivering digital technologies professional learning and development, including assisting schools with the implementation of the new Digital Technologies Curriculum. 

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Brian Hinchco

Dr Brian Hinchco

Accredited Consultant

Brian has extensive experience in school and system leadership and educational project management, both within New Zealand and internationally. Among the projects Brian has managed have been: the development of the MoE PB4L contract, the MoE’s NZC PLD initiative for Auckland and Northland, the Student Competency Framework project for the Abu Dhabi Education Council, the Cognition Expert Partner for Kahui Ako national team, and the Career Aspirations – Personalised Pathways project for Tai Tokerau. These projects have built on his extensive experience in curriculum development and involved such skills as curriculum design and mapping, resource development, senior leadership mentoring, and the establishment of educational clusters. Prior to joining Cognition Education, Brian was an intermediate school principal, president of NZAIMS, and a sector representative on several Ministerial reference groups.

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Del Costello

Del Costello

Accredited Consultant  

Del provides Literacy, Learning with Digital Technologies and Innovate Learning professional learning and development (PLD) to schools and Kahui Ako throughout the country. Del has specialised expertise in the area of oral language for literacy and has worked in the PLD space for the last 15 years. She has a Master of Education (eLearning and Digital Pedagogies endorsement). Her work focuses on collaboration with teams to design, develop and evaluate integrated approaches that improve learner outcomes. She advocates for evidence-based practice and delivers a focus on strengthening relationships across school communities. In addition to her work with schools, Del is an examiner for Speech New Zealand. 

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Dianne Ogle

Dianne Ogle

Accredited Consultant  

Dianne has been working in mathematics professional development since 2009. She also has experience in leading professional development in digital technologies, literacy and gifted education. Dianne is passionate about mathematics education and is particularly interested in developing student discourse in mathematics classrooms, data-informed decision making and the role of digital technologies in mathematics education. Dianne supports schools in data analysis using wide sources of evidence and assists them to make data-informed decisions. She completed her Master of Education (Hons) at Waikato University in 2016 specialising in professional learning.

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Fiona McDiarmid

Fiona McDiarmid

Regional Manager, Lower North Island 

Fiona joined the Cognition team in July 2012 and is the regional manager for our Lower North Island team. She has been working in teacher professional development in mathematics and statistics since 2001 and is National Leader for Programmes for Students (ALiM and MST).  Fiona brings a wealth of experience to the team. Prior to joining Cognition, Fiona spent 8 years with Victoria University where she led the mathematics advisory team and lectured a few mathematics masters level papers. This was followed by a three-year stint at the Ministry of Education where her main role focused on improving mathematics educational outcomes. Fiona is passionate about mathematics and believes that all students can be successful in learning mathematics.

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Fiona Smale

Fiona Smale

Accredited Consultant

Fiona joined Cognition in 2019 as a consultant based in New Plymouth, covering the Taranaki and Whanganui areas. Prior to this, she mentored ALiM (Accelerated Learning in Maths) and MST (Maths Support Teacher) teachers. Fiona has over 25 years of experience working in primary and intermediate schools both in New Zealand and overseas, having held leadership roles in Technology and Mathematics. Fiona is particularly passionate about mathematics teaching and learning, with the belief that all students can achieve success in mathematics. As Maths Lead Teacher, she has participated in both the ALiM and MST programmes for students which focusses on removing inequalities and accelerating student achievement. Fiona is now involved in supporting teachers, leaders and principals with Maths Professional Learning and Development.

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Gillian Kissling

Gillian Kissling

Accredited Consultant 

Gillian Kissling demonstrates passion and capability in improving teaching practice. At the heart of her work alongside schools is the development of young people as life-long learners and productive citizens. With significant expertise in collaborative inquiry, Gillian empowers leaders and teachers to respond agentically in a range of situations. She has strengths in evaluation and self-review, acceleration practices, curriculum design and delivery and mathematics pedagogy. She has presented at symposia in New Zealand and Australia, been involved in internal consortium review and provided consultancy education since 2009. Prior to her role as education consultant, she held a number of positions in the primary sector ranging from literacy leader, special education needs co-ordinator to principal. Gillian is curious, optimistic and passionate about her work in education.

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Heather Lewis

Heather Lewis

Accredited Consultant   

Heather’s expertise and interests lie in mathematics education. She is experienced in co-constructing professional development solutions with schools, based firmly on current research and evidence that support the core principles of the New Zealand Curriculum. Heather’s passion is to help school leaders and teachers challenge their own mathematics teaching practices and strengthen mathematics learning that is centred on cognitively challenging problem solving and rich tasks that span the broader curriculum. Heather is currently the National Leader for Programmes for Students (ALiM and MST). This Ministry of Education funded intervention supports leaders and teachers to implement accelerative strategies to raise achievement for priority learners. Her role as a mathematics consultant in schools is to support leaders to build and sustain professional learning communities, in which teachers grow their capability. Heather joined Cognition in 2012 and led the mathematics contract for Auckland and Tai Tokerau until 2017. Heather also facilitated the Mutukaroa project which supports schools to partner with parents and whānau to better understand how their children are progressing in their learning over the first three years at school. It is also about supporting parents with making learning fun at home. She is accredited to deliver professional development to understand and use the Learning Progressions Frameworks in Mathematics, and the PACT. She has presented at conferences and symposia in New Zealand and Australia, including NZAMT, MERGA and MAV.

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Jacque Allen

Jacque Allen

Accredited Consultant  

Jacque is an education consultant for Cognition Education in the area of Innovative Learning. She is working with many schools, both with new and existing learning spaces. Her experience in teaching at both primary and secondary levels enables her to work across all curriculum areas and at all year levels. Jacque is passionate about the change management involved in innovative learning pedagogy and practice, utilising innovative learning spaces to capitalise on the advances in pedagogy across New Zealand and around the world. Jacque provides a co-constructivist approach, enabling leaders and teachers to develop strategies for learner agency, collaborative teaching practice and transforming learning spaces. Jacque is a founding and current member of the Learning Environments New Zealand committee. She has recently completed research on sustaining value within online communities.

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Janine Simpson

Janine Simpson

Accredited Consultant

Janine is an experienced education consultant who uses reliable expertise, a passion for making a difference and a collaborative approach to help support continual improvement. She is a strong advocate for evidence based continual growth, learning and development. Janine has particular strengths and experience in leadership development, formative assessment, curriculum design and mathematics pedagogy. She has worked in the education sector for over 20 years, half of which were in senior leadership roles. Janine has presented at seminars in New Zealand and Australia and provided consultancy education since 2009.

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Jenna Crowley

Jenna Crowley

Regional Manager, Tai Tokerau

Jenna is an experienced educator and leader of learning with a background in a wide range of Auckland and Northland contexts. As a professional learning and development consultant, Jenna works within and across schools / Kāhui Ako to develop effective instructional leadership and increase collective efficacy. Jenna is passionate about raising achievement for all learners through culturally responsive pedagogy and Relationships-based Learning. Her strengths are in facilitating teacher inquiry and collaboration, responsive curriculum design, and school self-review. Previously, Jenna has specialised in Learning Languages, the New Zealand Curriculum, and Mathematics and Statistics. Her Master of Education (with Distinction) research focused on the impact of teacher collaborative planning for mathematics on their knowledge and practice, and explored factors influencing teacher change.

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Jo Morrison

Jo Morrison

Accredited Consultant  

Jo has recently completed a research-based Master of Education that explored evidence-based inclusive practices with a focus on supporting learners with Down syndrome. Jo believes that authentic inclusive education must encompass both culture and practice. Her approach is collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based with a focus on empowering schools to provide inclusive, equitable access to high quality learning experiences and relationships for children with learning support needs alongside their typically developing peers.

Jo provides support to leadership teams seeking to grow their inclusive school culture and develop their SENCOs, Learning Support Coordinators and teacher aides. She provides coaching to classroom teams (teacher and teacher aides) and peer-coaching for students.

Jo has been in education for seventeen years and has worked in schools in Tai Tokerau and the UK. She is an experienced secondary school teacher and curriculum leader of English and Media Studies. Jo was Assistant Principal responsible for staff professional development, performance management and capabilities at a large, semi-rural, Year 9 – 13 school in the UK. As a mother of a child with Down syndrome and an active voice in Tai Tokerau’s disability community, she also brings authentic whānau and child-centred perspectives to her work in schools.

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Julia Crawford

Julia Crawford

Accredited Consultant

Julia is passionate about supporting teachers to make learning engaging and relevant for all. Her experience includes pre-service teacher education at both primary and secondary levels, teaching and middle management at a year 7 – 13 school, Numeracy skills specialist at the University of Auckland and as accredited PLD facilitator. Julia’s deep understanding of the mathematics pedagogy and learning is based on research and practical experience. She believes that the learning of mathematics should be based on active and authentic activities and that all learners can engage in meaningful mathematics learning that relate to their local context. Julia has expertise in improving pedagogy in mathematics and statistics, designing school wide programs with a focus on the transition between primary and secondary school, statistics teaching and learning, NCEA assessment (including program design, writing assessment tasks and moderation), and GaTE. Currently Julia is involved in mentoring the in the Programmes for Students (ALiM and MST), PLD in intermediate and secondary schools, supporting the use of the Learning Progression Framework (and PaCT) tools and writing Teacher Guides and Student Learner Books in Mathematics for the Solomon Islands.

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Julia Tong

Julia Tong

Accredited Consultant  

Julia joined the Cognition team in 2015. She is a strong advocate for developing authentic learning experiences for students, teachers and leaders that is collaborative and evidence focused. She has worked in a range of capacities delivering professional learning support in mathematics to schools, leadership clusters and regional symposiums. Julia currently works in Palmerston North to support schools with professional development, offering a wide range of topics including curriculum design, effective pedagogy, acceleration practices, formative assessment and the use of inquiry to improve teaching and learning. Julia also contributes to the Programmes for Students project – ALiM (Accelerated Learning in Mathematics) and MST (Mathematics Support Teacher), as a mentor and training facilitator. Julia is passionate about developing data driven decision making skills and leadership capability that will raise student achievement for all learners.

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Kate Birch

Kate Birch

Accredited Consultant

Kate is a highly skilled and experienced educator with extensive experience in literacy, assessment and professional development programmes for teachers and leaders. As a Visible Learning Plus consultant, both in New Zealand and internationally, Kate has been part of the programme development team which has supported schools to embed the principles of the Visible Learning research. Her book, Evidence into Action, co-written with John Hattie, showcases 15 schools around the world who have implemented the VL programmes. As an Expert Partner, Kate has supported Kahui Ako around New Zealand to develop their theories of action to activate their Achievement Challenges. She is skilled in developing collaborative inquiry as a tool to identify and solve complex issues and challenges, at system and classroom levels. Currently she is part of the Cognition team supporting and designing the Impact Coaching programme in the Northern Territory of Australia. She also maintains her passion for literacy, working as a PLD provider in schools throughout New Zealand.  

Kim Bulluss

Kim Bulluss

Accredited Consultant  

Kim joined Cognition in 2012. Prior to this, Kim was a primary teacher for 16 years and had led curriculum teams in literacy, numeracy and the arts. Kim has worked in a diverse range of schools across Auckland delivering professional learning and development to build teacher and leader capability in mathematics years 1–8, effective pedagogy, culturally responsive pedagogies, data analysis, teacher inquiry and implementing and monitoring acceleration programmes. She has a particular interest in relationships-based learning and building stronger partnerships with whānau groups and local communities to improve the learning outcomes for their students. Kim regularly presents at Primary Mathematics Association and Mathematics Association of Victoria conferences and has an interest in incorporating her love of music and the arts across the curriculum into the delivery of mathematics. Currently Kim has been involved in writing Teacher Guides and Student Learner Books in Mathematics for the Solomon Islands.

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Lara Meyer

Lara Meyer

Accredited Consultant 

Lara has over thirty years of experience as a teacher, leader and education consultant in New Zealand and Australia. Her passions and skills include curriculum policy and design, strategic planning, leadership mentoring, observation protocols, coaching and literacy. In addition to her work as a professional development provider to NZ schools, Lara is a National School Improvement Reviewer for Australian Council of Educational Research. She was previously Principal Advisor to independent schools as part of the National Partnerships Initiative in Victoria, Australia. Lara was a lead facilitator for Te Kotahitanga and subsequently developed the Evidence Based Observation (EBO) APP to make it easier for coaches to collect robust observation data for coaching purposes. She also authored the Hono (Connection) Initiative, a drug education programme for youth which is popular with NZ schools, training institutions and industries. 

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Laurayne Tafa

Laurayne Tafa

Accredited Consultant

Laurayne has a wide range of teaching, leadership, advisory and evaluation experiences in educational contexts situated in rural and urban Māori and Pasifika environments. In all her roles her focus has been on building communities, and organisational performance to achieve improved student outcomes. She is skilled at developing open, consultative processes with stakeholders to grow educationally powerful partnerships. These result in capacity and capability building within communities. Over many years she has played an integral role in challenging the failing status quo and bringing about positive change in both literacy leadership and school leadership in schooling improvement projects.

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Lee Smith

Lee Smith

Accredited Consultant

Lee joined Cognition in 2019 after working in her local intermediate as a classroom teacher and syndicate leader for some years. She was heavily involved with the ALiM programme as an Across School leader, within her Kāhui Ako, and enjoys seeing the success students and teachers have when using acceleration practices. Lee is driven by creating learning environments in which a growth mindset and agentic attitudes are fostered. She has strengths and experience in formative assessment, inquiry, curriculum design and mathematics pedagogy. Lee holds a Masters in Degree Education from Victoria University of Wellington, where she majored in curriculum, learning and assessment.

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Louise Miller

Louise Miller

Accredited Consultant  

Louise has worked within the education sector in local and international settings. Since relocating to New Zealand, she has developed a commitment to developing rich, authentic learning experiences for students, teachers and leaders. Louise has worked in a range of capacities delivering professional learning support in mathematics to schools, leadership clusters and regional symposiums. She has supported networks of schools to develop both effective home school partnerships and strong assessment practice through the implementation of the Mutukaroa project. Louise supports schools to demystify learning in the classroom in order to build authentic relational learning partnerships with whānau. She values strong inquiry practices, is invested in exploring and implementing research-based learning to develop strong cultures of learning in schools and across local communities. Louise is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

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Lynne Thomas

Lynne Thomas

Accredited Consultant

Lynne is a MoE Accredited PLD Facilitator. She has worked extensively in ICT advisory and facilitation roles to develop digital strategies and effective pedagogy for future-focused learning and teaching. She uses the Spiral of Inquiry framework to structure collaborative professional learning and development. 

Lynne’s strengths are:

  • Digital Fluency across the school curriculum
  • Digital Citizenship
  • New Digital Technologies curriculum delivery
  • Using Google Suite for Education, Chrome apps, Web tools, iPad apps, 
  • Teaching as Inquiry approach
  • Providing practical workshops and useful resources
Marie Hirst

Marie Hirst

Accredited Consultant  

Marie has over 15 years’ experience as a facilitator specialising in providing quality professional learning and support in mathematics and statistics. She has worked extensively with many schools across Auckland to develop effective mathematics teaching, assessment, data analysis, leadership, and intervention programmes to accelerate learning in mathematics for a diverse range of students. She presents regularly at PMA and NZAMT mathematics conferences in New Zealand as well as internationally at MERGA and MAV and has written mathematics resources and support material for teachers. Since joining Cognition in 2012, Marie has also coordinated professional learning for educators in the LEOTC sector (Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom). Prior to facilitation, Marie was a primary school teacher both in New Zealand and England.

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Mary Sinclair

Mary Sinclair

Global Adviser – Collaborative Impact, Innovation, Research and Evaluation  

Mary has had significant experience within New Zealand, Australia and Qatar, in system and school effectiveness, reform, and change management inclusive of strategic and operational leadership, and the planning, delivery, research/evaluation of instructional leadership and teaching professional learning programmes. During her time at Cognition she had supported Ministries of Education in Asia Pacific and the Middle East in system level reform initiatives. Mary has supported the Northern Territory Guiding Coalition during recent implementation of the Collaborative Impact Programme. Mary has strong knowledge of the needs of Indigenous learners.

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Raewyn Gainsford

Raewyn Gainsford

Accredited Consultant  

Raewyn joined Cognition in 2013 and is currently a consultant based in Taranaki. While the main focus of her work is mathematics, she has also worked as a facilitator to support networks of schools involved with the Mutukaroa project. Prior to this she worked in primary education for many years and has a passion for developing skills in making teaching and learning accessible for everyone.

Raewyn is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

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Rebecca Bishop

Rebecca Bishop

Accredited Consultant

Rebecca joined Cognition in 2019 and brings strengths in teacher inquiry, curriculum, assessment and digital technologies. Prior to this she was a deputy principal of a largediverseurban school. Due to a fascination of how people learn Rebecca left a career as a practicing scientist and has been in education for over a decade. Rebecca has a deep understanding of teacher inquiry including being the project leader of a Teacher Led Innovation Fund project (TLIF) that focused on developing Makerspace pedagogy to improve outcomes for priority learners. In her school and Kāhui Ako Rebecca led inquiry project groups with a focus on raising student achievement in mathematics, including leading and facilitating PLD and Programmes for Students (ALIM).

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Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas

Accredited Consultant

Rebecca is a passionate educator with 20 years of experience in the UK and Northland in both Primary and Intermediate settings. Her forward-thinking insights into curriculum design, Teaching as Inquiry, and Learning with Digital Technologies enable her to lead change in exciting, collaborative directions. Rebecca has experience in successfully influencing innovation through transformative learning in schools, implementing effective pedagogies and growth mindset cultures. Additionally, for the past seven years, she has had extensive experience using talk for writing strategies to engage students with a love of writing. Rebecca also enjoys promoting the importance of Philosophy for Children in our fast-changing educational landscape.

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Sarah Hopkinson

Sarah Hopkinson

Accredited Consultant

Sarah provides Curriculum Design professional learning and development (PLD) to schools and Kāhui Ako throughout the North Island. She has a Master of Education (Distinction) and is passionate about supporting schools and their communities to develop innovative local curriculum approaches that are place-based, critically conscious, culturally sustaining and student-centred.  

Sarah utilises design thinking methodologies in her PLD processes. This ensures collective ownership of the PLD as solutions are created “by, with and for” those that she serves. She led the development of Pūtātara, a resource for schools to embed sustainability across the curriculum. She is currently managing the Solomon Islands Curriculum Project and consulting with a number of schools and organisations on curriculum, vision and strategy.  

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Selena Hinchco

Selena Hinchco

Regional Manager, Auckland

Selena is an experienced facilitator and educator who promotes evidence-based practice and instructional leadership in her work with leaders and teachers. Her strengths are in Assessment for Learning, Collaborative Inquiry, Local curriculum review and design and building instructional leaders.  As an Assessment for Learning consultant Selena supports Kāhui Ako and schools to make sense of research, build shared principles and practices to build assessment capable learners, teachers and learners. As an Expert Partner, she supported Kāhui Ako to meet their aims and is skilled in building collaborative inquiry habits, Practice Analysis Conversations and in establishing PLCs. Selena worked with international and private schools in Abu Dhabi to pilot a framework of 21st century competencies. Her Master of Education (Hons) research was focused on the use of rubrics to support formative assessment in the classroom.

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Shaun Hawthorne

Shaun Hawthorne

Director, Programmes   

Shaun is a highly skilled and experienced educator with extensive experience in programme development, project management, and educational consultancy. Shaun has been part of teams working in NZ and Australia to support school and system level effectiveness and change management programmes. These include supporting the design and implementation of system-wide Collaborative Impact Programmes in the Northern Territory of Australia and leading the delivery of numerous leadership training, coaching and effective pedagogy professional learning programmes in NZ. Shaun has also worked as an Expert Partner for Kāhui Ako in Auckland and Gisborne. Prior to joining Cognition, Shaun worked for over 20 years in the secondary schooling sector in Auckland. Shaun’s areas of expertise cover effective practices in secondary literacy & teaching writing; school effectiveness and leadership and the cognitive science of learning.

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Steve Saville

Steve Saville

Accredited Consultant

Steve is a passionate educator who has significant experience across a range of educational settings. Over recent years, his work has been in the field of managing curriculum and environmental change. He was the foundation Principal of Rolleston College in Canterbury and prior to that worked as Deputy Principal at Alfriston College. He was also the Regional Facilitator for the Te Kotahitanga Project and English Curriculum advisor for the Auckland region during the original implementation of NCEA. He has extensive experience in leading and developing authentic, skill-based learning contexts that empower learners and teachers. Steve has also researched the role of creativity in the learning experience and worked extensively in relationship-based learning programmes.

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TeAhua Park

TeAhua Park

Accredited Consultant  

TeAhua Park (Ngapuhi/ Ngatihine) has worked in the education sector for 20 years as an experienced classroom teacher in primary school settings. In recent years she has facilitated Learning with Digital Technologies professional learning and development in a range of Northland schools. TeAhua is a passionate facilitator with expertise in designing connected curriculum, working in innovative learning environments, building community partnerships through collaboration and learning and culturally responsive pedagogies. TeAhua works with all stakeholders (students, whānau, teachers, leaders and BOTs) to review, design and deliver responsive professional development opportunities which build leadership and teacher capability, improve student outcomes and create a catalyst for effective change. TeAhua is a Relationship-based Learning trained facilitator. 

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Tracy Bowker

Tracy Bowker

Accredited Consultant  

Tracy has comprehensive experience in the schooling sector, focusing on secondary. She has a varied background, but her expertise is in the technology learning area, specifically the integration of digital technologies. She was previously the project manager for the national blended e-learning and digital technologies guidelines projects. She has extensive experience in resource development for years 1-13 and led the work for New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby League and a joint project focusing on inquiry resources for the commemoration of World War 1. Recently her work has focused on National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) roles, specifically the NCEA change package, for the Ministry of Education. Tracy provides Cognition with a unique background, effective project management skills and strong leadership qualities.

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