New Zealand Kindergartens inc

Kindergartens – first choice early childhood education service.

About us

New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated Te Pūtahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa (NZK) is the national umbrella group representing twenty five of the thirty  regional kindergarten associations throughout New Zealand. We are a not-for-profit incorporated society and registered charity.

NZK strategic goals

  • Growth and diversity

    Provide the environment to enable our member associations to increase the participation of children and whānau in early childhood education. 
  • Organisational robustness 

    Model effective and efficient business and governance practice. 
  • Best practice

    Model and promote best practice. 

NZK board

NZK has a seven member governance board and operates a national office in Wellington.

The board comprises a president, three independent appointed members, and three elected members, one of whom is an association manager and one, an early childhood professional.

The NZK board meets at least six times annually. NZK hosts a national meeting for members annually and a conference every two years. There is a national governance hui held in the alternate year to conference. NZK sponsors an annual managers hui and an annual hui for kindergarten professional teams.

Board members are:

James Patea, Tauranga - President 

James was elected as president of the NZK board at the AGM held in Wellington on 15 September 2017.  James was the chair of Inspired Kindergartens in Tauranga and a trustee at Welcome Bay School.

"I have always been an advocate of quality education and outcomes for tamariki. My interest in the health and vitality of NZK has grown into a passion to see our organisation succeed at all levels of learning. My greatest strength lies in my deep understanding of Te Reo and tikanga and it would be used to push forth the interests of our NZK network to promote the qualities of the services we offer and enrich the lives of all tamariki in Aotearoa. Kei aku nui kei aku rahi he tenei mihi ki a koutou katoa."

Helen McNaughten, Napier

Helen was elected to the association manager position on the NZK board in September 2013 and is in her third term. Helen is the Napier Kindergarten Association (NKA) general manager, a roll that she has held for the past seven years.

“I am committed to the kindergarten movement and wish to ensure it continues to flourish into the future hence I am a strong advocate for quality ECE.”

Claire Brown, Wellington

Claire was elected to the NZK board in 2011. She took up an appointed position on the board in 2013 and is in her second term. Claire has been a board member on the He Whānau Manaaki (formerly Wellington) Kindergarten Association since 2005 and vice-chair since 2009, and is also a trustee on the Cashmere Avenue School board.

“I am passionate about kindergarten and the benefits of quality ECE and believe that a good start prepares our children for life. I want to ensure that all children in New Zealand have the opportunity to participate in kindergarten.”

Maria Stockman, Tauranga

Maria was appointed to the board in 2015. Maria is an audiologist by profession but left clinical work to focus on business and leadership. She is the NZ Business Development Manager for HearingLife and is involved in a technology start-up company. Maria is on boards of the Tauranga Regional Kindergarten Association and the Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Service and is about to start an internship on the board of Bay Trust.

“I’m inspired by how the founding philosophy of kindergarten has been weaved into a relevant modern practice which is centred on the whole child and encourages children to be children, transforming their natural curiosity for life into rich learning experiences and providing them with a safe place from which to explore, challenge and think for themselves.”

Grant Harrison, Northland

Grant was appointed to the NZK board in December 2015. He was elected to the board of the Northland Kindergarten Association in 2008 and is in his third term as board chair. Grant has a background in the education and sport industries and currently holds a senior management role in Sport Northland.

“I believe early childhood experiences lay the foundation for the development of well-rounded individuals that contribute to NZ communities. I believe I can play a role in supporting kindergarten to remain very highly placed to deliver the profoundly excellent opportunities to the tamariki of New Zealand."

Tania Jones, Wellington

Tania was appointed to the NZK board in January 2018. Tania is the current deputy chairperson of He Whānau Manaaki Kindergarten Association and vice chair of Volunteer New Zealand.

Tania is Strategic Coach with ClearThinking Coaching Ltd and CEO of Christian Medical Foundation NZ. Tania has a passion for community organisations and their development, a commitment to early childhood education and a belief in the incredible value that volunteering makes to our families and communities.

“I am committed, enthusiastic and passionate about community collaboration. I acknowledge and share the NZK values and can see that the organisation is at a key point in its development and planning for the future of kindergarten in New Zealand and look forward to being part of that.”

Craig Vercoe, Nelson

Craig was appointed to the NZK board in April 2018. Craig is a Senior Education Advisor at Nelson Tasman Kindergarten Association, EC Representative for the Waimea Kahui Ako a member of the NMDHB Clinical Governance Committee and vice chairperson of the NMDHB Consumer Council group.

 “The changing face of Early Childhood provision is a canvas that is everchanging and one that we need to remain well in advance of in order to remain relevant in the sector and I see the role as pivotal to communicating and advancing this amongst the teaching community.”

NZK National office

National office staff are:


    Clare Wells                   Joanne Newth
  Chief  Executive              Administrator


New Zealand Kindergartens Inc

Level 1, 32 The Terrace,
P.O. Box 3058, Wellington
Phone: 04 471-0775

E-mail Addresses