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Early Childhood Advisory Committee

On this page we introduce ECAC – the Early Childhood Advisory Committee.

Kaupapa Matua | Purpose

ECAC is an independent oversight group for early childhood education, and it provides advice to the Government, Ministry of Education, and other government organisations where relevant. 

Tā Mātou Mahi | Our Work

“Mahia i runga i te rangimarie me te ngākau mahaki, ka whiwhi ngā hua tonu tātou

(With a peaceful mind and a respectful heart, we will always get results)

To provide independent oversight of early childhood education policies, plans, and actions.


For the Government, the Ministry of Education and other government agencies to gain a better understanding and a more informed perspective from the field, so safety and quality for children is improved and ECE in Aotearoa/NZ is strengthened and advanced. 


ECAC recognises all early childhood education and care services equally and does not favour any one type of service over another. 

ECAC’s work and advice are guided by the values expressed in the OECE’s position statements on:  

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Indigenous Rights
  • The rights of children in ECE
  • Group size and ratios
  • Qualified early childhood trained teachers
  • Children’s right to attend ECE and the provision of free ECE
  • Involving parents and caregivers and engagement in learning
  • Men in ECE teaching
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Food safety and safe eating
  • Physical contact and touch
  • Teacher pay and conditions of work
  • ECE service conduct responsibilities
  • Enforcement and monitoring of minimum standards
  • ECE governance and management
  • Complaints system

Our Provision of Advice to Government Ministers, Ministry of Education, and other Agencies

28 May 2024 – Early Childhood Teacher Supply and Workforce Strategy – Recruitment and Retention in NZ

ECAC Members

Diverse stakeholders and experts are brought together in ECAC to form a strong and informed voice for ECE.  ECAC recognises all early childhood education services equally, as part of the early childhood education system.  

Members can come from any organisation, group or part of the early childhood sector. They bring their thinking, expertise and perspectives and are not asked to represent the viewpoint of their employer or organisation. ECAC is non-partisan.


Bonnie Te Ara Henare (Auckland & Aotea Island, Great Barrier) – Educational Consultant. 
Managing Director of a ECE consultancy with over 25 years’ experience working in mainstream, bilingual, and immersive Māori ECE settings. Current Chair of Auckland Regional Committee for the United Nations Women Aotearoa NZ (UNWANZ) & Indigenous Advisory Council member (UNWANZ).
Qualifications: Post-grad cert ECE Leadership, B.Tchg (ECE), (DipMFA)


Marianne Kayes (Auckland) – Early Childhood Advocate
ECE journey started in Playcentre. Hospital Play Specialists Assn life member and currently an OMEP national executive member. Served on government and Ministry of Education advisory committees, including the Strategic Plan for Early Learning reference group (2018) and the Strategic Plan for Early Childhood working group (2000-2001).  Member of the Child Poverty Action Group, Tick4Kids and Childrens’ Rights Alliance Aotearoa
Qualifications: Master of Health Science (Hons), Adv Dip Tchg, Dip Early Intervention, Edn Management Higher Cert.

Dr Kerry Purdue (Southland, Central Otago, Queenstown Lakes) – Teacher Education Professional and Researcher in Inclusion and Equity
Academic educator for ECE Degree and Diploma students. Over 30 years’ experience working in ECE and 23 years in initial teacher education. Researcher in disability, inclusion, and equity.
Qualifications: Ph.D., M.Ed., B.Ed. Dip Tchg. 

Rachael Fearn (Rolleston, Canterbury) – ECE Small Business Director
Centre owner/manager and ECE qualified teacher.  Over 20 years’ experience in the early childhood sector.  
Qualifications: B.Tchg (ECE), Dip business management.

Wikitoria Ratu (Waiwhetu Lower Hutt) – Operations Manager for Te Kōhanga reo o Arohanui ki te Tangata. (Waiwhetu)
Involved in Te Kōhanga Reo movement for 42yrs, 15 years with Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust as a Kaupapa Kaimahi, course Trainer over all courses that the Te Kōhanga Reo Trust offer. Has a sound understanding of Te Whāriki Māori. Three yeasr working part time for Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori (Kauru Reo) MoE programme reaching out to schools, Kura and ECE where teachers want to take up Te Reo and how best they can use Te Reo within the School, Kura environment.
Qualifications:  Dip ECE Tohu, Dip Art & Design, Adult Teaching Cert, Adult Literacy & Numeracy, Te Kōhanga Reo Trust Te Tohu Paetahi Degree, Pinakitanga Reo Level 6, Te Reo o Taranaki Level 6. 42yrs of Life Skills. Born and Breed on her Marae. (Waiwhetu)   
Pono ki te Kaupapa, Puna Ko te Reo.  

Dr Leanne Young (Auckland) – Child Health and Nutrition Expert
Research Fellow at the University of Auckland’s National Institute of Health Innovation.  Former Portfolio Manager for the Ministry of Health and Food Industry Setting Manager for the NZ Heart Foundation. Doctorate involved an evaluation of a nutrition and physical activity programme within ECEs.
Qualifications: PhD, Master of Public Health, Postgraduate Dip Science, B.Sc.

Penny Jorgensen (Auckland) – Community Sector Consultant
Recently retired.  Involved with Allergy New Zealand, a patient/consumer-led national organisation, for 15 years; 8 years as CEO. Responsible for the organisation’s engagement in the development and implementation of food safety regulations, and in consumer education and support for young children and adults living with food allergies, ECE services and schools. Representative on national and international groups/alliances.
Qualifications:  Grad Dip Not-For-Profit Management

Russell Ballantyne (Dunedin) – Men in ECE Advocate and ECE Service Director
President of the EC-Menz Network.  Co-owner of an early childhood centre for the past 20 years. Over 40 years’ experience in the ECE sector, including as a teacher, teacher education lecturer, kindergarten senior teacher, and general manager of a kindergarten association.  Skilled in nonprofit organisations.
Qualifications:  B.A., NZFKU Dip.

David Haynes (Whitianga) – Operations Advisor
Currently, vice chair and treasurer of an early childhood centre, leader of the OECE’s Pay Parity Steering Group, and chief executive of the Internet Service Providers Association. Post graduate qualifications in logistics and in quality management. Former experience in running several complex businesses and experienced in employment law. Commanded NZ’s contingent with the United Nations Operation in Somalia as well as coordinating the logistic support for the 24,000 strong multi-national force.
Qualifications: Dip Quality Assurance, B.Sc. (Engineering), Dip. Logistics Management.

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