Trustee Board

Avis Stewart - Te Whare Tikanga Māori Co-President

Avis joined the Trustee Board in 2015. My Playcentre journey spans 20+ years. Gave birth to 6 who gave us 27 mokopuna and 2 mokopuna tuarua – Ryder and Carter, along with the many whangai that have blessed us.

As a centre member I held many voluntary positions from the cleaner to the President. My volunteer roles at Association started on the Education team getting all the QMS in order moving through the Association policies, constitution, delegate to National meetings and becoming the first non-Māori Co Convenor for Mid Northland Playcentre Association. From 2015 – 2017 I became employed as the CEO for Mid Northland Playcentre Association holding the compliance, through licensee, for all centres among other duties. Federation positions saw me have a stint in the Association Support team, part of the ‘summer working party’ to develop the structure that we are now implementing, part of the Constitutional working party to develop the constitution we now operate under, kaiwhakahaere for Te Whare Tikanga Māori, to currently holding the position of Perehitana Takirua o Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa.

Our babies continue to inspire me to make sure that the Playcentre journey continues for future generations.

Ann Langis - Tāngata Tiriti Co-President

Ann’s Playcentre journey began in 2003 when she and her young family were adopted by a group of Playcentre families on a camping trip.  She admired the strong connections between the families, the gentleness with which older children played with the younger, and the abundant creativity and freedom among the group as they played guitar, sang, and built driftwood sculptures together.  One of them asked her, “Have you heard about Playcentre?” and the rest is history!  

Since that time Ann spent 12 years at Glen Innes and Narrowneck Playcentres with her 3 tamariki, a further 5 years supporting governance at the Association and National level, and is honored to be a Life Member of Narrowneck.  Her professional background spans primary and secondary school teaching, education policy analysis, and more recently, small business owner and educational consultant.  Grounded in skills developed at Playcentre, her consulting work supports schools, communities, and government agencies to harness the power of play for learning and wellbeing.

At Playcentre she has found a kaupapa worth fighting for; the right of children to play, supporting whānau as their first and most important teachers, and biculturalism as a pillar for growing inclusive, equitable communities.  

Ranee Davies - Te Whare Tikanga Māori Trustee

Ranee joined the Trustee Board in November 2019. Ranee began her Playcentre journey in 2008 with her twins.

In 2016, Ranee joined the Counties Association Education team and started attending national meetings. Ranee is on the Trustee Board because she wanted to steal the previous Co-Presidents job, and now Ranee has only two more stepping stones until she achieves her goal to be Co-President.

Ranee is supported in her position by her three children and Ngā Kakano Puriri Wakamaru.

Bes Lironi-Irvine - Te Whare Tikanga Māori Trustee

Bes joined the Trustee Board in November 2021. Her Playcentre journey began in 2014 at Glen Eden Playcentre where she attended with her two daughters, her niece and two nephews. During her Playcentre years Bes threw herself into the various centre roles, was a member of Kia Puawai o Te Akoranga and sat on the Te Akoranga Association Board as Kaitautoko, then Kaiwhakahaere and attended numerous national meetings.

Now living in the Far North, Bes home educates her children alongside two of their cousins, spends a lot of time outdoors and enjoys a life of learning and new experiences.

Heather Ruru - Te Whare Tikanga Māori Trustee

Heather joined the Trustee Board in November 2021. She is a life member of Māngere Bridge Playcentre, where she and her son began their journey in 2012. Heather was heavily involved in governance as a representative of her rōpū, Te Rito, then joined the NZPF Education team in 2014. Refocusing on her Association in 2016, she joined the Auckland Playcentres Association Governance board and served as President in 2017.  

Heather has a background in Māori Medium education and Māori language revitalisation. In her current role as General Manager of an Education Trust she leads the design and implementation of the Aotearoa New Zealand histories curriculum and supports manawhenua to ensure educational success by Māori, for Māori. She is a total immersion reo Māori teacher, social researcher and Māori language translator. 

Heather’s passion lies with reclaiming te reo Māori for her son and future mokopuna. She credits Playcentre with her accomplishments as a lifelong learner and her confidence as first and best teacher for her son, Cash.  

Te piko o te māhuri, tērā te tipu o te rākau  

Gemma Scott - Tāngata Tiriti Trustee

Gemma joined the Trustee Board in November 2021. She started her Playcentre journey at Glendene Playcentre in West Auckland in 2012, and in 2013 joined the Te Akoranga Playcentre Association Executive and started attending national meetings. Serving as Treasurer, Co-President and President, she remained on the Association Executive until 2019. 

Gemma has a background in accounting, and held many roles in her time at Centre. Through both voluntary and paid work, she has developed a good understanding of Playcentre operations and governance.

Gemma’s favourite part of Playcentre was seeing all of the tamariki progress through their Playcentre journey, and misses being on session regularly since the graduation of her youngest child in 2020. 

Hayley Kirk-Smith - Tāngata Tiriti Trustee

Hayley joined the Trustee Board in November 2021. She began her Playcentre journey in 2010 with her first son, initially through a SPACE programme at her centre, Balmoral in Auckland, and then as member. Hayley quickly become deeply involved in centre life taking on many roles, including Centre Co-ordinator (President) after the birth of her second son. In 2014 she began Association and National governance work as a member and then work as Vice-President of the Auckland Playcentre Association until 2018. 

Hayley has an education background as a Primary teacher, including 9 years on the Balmoral School Board of Trustees. She is now working in the Real Estate industry. Career and Playcentre experience have given Hayley a broad skill-set in governance and management. 

Hayley holds dear the special character of Playcentre as a grassroots organisation that supports and prioritises parents and tamariki to grow alongside each other, building strong communities for whānau. 

Fran Cowie - Tāngata Tiriti Trustee

Fran began her Playcentre journey in 2017 at Lincoln Playcentre, where she still attends with her daughters, Victoria and Catherine.

She has held a variety of roles at Centre including Treasurer and President. In 2021 she got her first experience of Playcentre National Governance when she joined the Upper South Island Regional Representative Team.  Fran joined the Trustee Board in November 2022.

Hailing from Cardiff, Wales, Fran made the move to call Aotearoa New Zealand home in 2014. Fran has a background in operations, project and financial management across a range of large commercial and educational organisations.

Fran found her village at Playcentre and is grateful for the support and friendships made along her parenting journey.  She is passionate about Playcentre’s power to build and strengthen communities.