She chats and laughs amicably as she watches her third son splashing and soaking his friend at the water trough, both of them giggling away. For Neroli, everything else melts away during these simple moments while watching her son play.

Approachable and modest, you wouldn’t guess all that Neroli has undertaken as President of her local Playcentre, until you delve deeper. A natural organizer, she stepped into the role to help during the post-earthquake renovation of the Playcentre building and grounds, which have since had a complete overhaul.


“After nannying in the USA and UK, I was working from NZ post as a manager here in Christchurch, when I became pregnant with my now 9 year old. When she turned 1, I returned to work and after about 1 and half years, when number 2 came along, I went on maternity leave, and never went back!”

That was 6 years ago.

“It was more of a budgetary decision as well, ‘cause I couldn’t justify putting [Ryan] in preschool when I was at home full time. It’s nice to be spending time with him and I think too, for parents it’s a great thing, the social connection you get with the other parents. You get that support network.

What do you struggle with as a mum?

“Sometimes it’s just the tiredness, as an older mum; … Playcentre has forced me out of the house when you don’t want to socialise, and you’ve got other mums to talk to, which is good ‘cause otherwise you’d get stuck in a rut”.