Meet our PLD team

Professional Learning & Development (PLD) Facilitators

Pedagogical Lead

Kara Daly


Ko Kara Daly tōku ingoa, nō Waikato ahau. 

I am the Pedagogical Lead on the National Management Team and support mātauranga (adult learning) across Aotearoa through Playcentre Education and Playcentre PLD.  I have been involved in Playcentre as a parent since 2005, as a tutor since 2008 and a PLD Facilitator since 2013.  Since the late 1990s I have worked in the adult education sector in various facilitation and curriculum development roles, and have combined this with my passion for children’s learning and whānau support to move into ECE.   I work from home in the Waikato and regularly travel throughout NZ (when COVID levels allow) to support adult learning in Playcentres across the country.  My passions with early learning include outdoor education, maths and supporting tamariki nui (big kids) at Playcentre.


Professional Learning & Development (PLD) Lead

Karina Hart


Tēnā koutou katoa, Ko Karina tōku ingoa 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini. 

I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts talents and strengths of my family tribe and ancestors. 

 Playcentre has been a huge part of my life, I am a Playcentre child and have been a Playcentre parent since 2001. I have been involved in various roles within Playcentre over the last 20 years and a part of the PLD team for the past 8 years. This has given me the opportunity to see, hear and feel what Playcentre looks like for individual centres all over New Zealand.  I feel privileged to have been able to experience this and I am thankful to all the centres that have welcomed me in.  I have gained something from every visit as I have worked with and alongside centre’s tamariki and their whānau.

I believe Playcentre is the most amazing environment to foster inquisitive tamariki who are empowered to guide their learning journey. Being a part of an organisation that works with and alongside whānau, fostering responsive and reciprocal relationships fits so closely with my personal philosophy. I look forward to continuing this journey through the PLD Lead role and supporting our vibrant very skilled and experienced team of facilitators.

Upper North Island (UNI) Facilitators

UNI Facilitator

Helen Caskey


Tēnā koutou katoa 

Ko Helen Caskey tōku ingoa 

I attended Marsden Playcentre in Northland as a Child in the 1970’s, Then returned in 1996 with my own children and have never left. During this time I completed the Playcentre Education training, fell in love with the organisation and all that it does for the Tamariki of New Zealand. I have filled a variety of rolls in Playcentre over time, my favourites are the ones that I currently fill. Centre Member (I take my Mokopuna to Marsden Playcentre two days a week), Workshop Facilitator for Playcentre Education, and PLD facilitator supporting centres in the Upper North Island. I love The mixed age sessions, Involvement of parents and whanau and the creativity of Playcentre.

UNI Facilitator

Karen Thomas


Kia orana, Ko Karen Moetu Thomas tāku i’goa

I began Playcentre in 1994 with my first son Cameron at Mangapapa Playcentre in the previous Tairawhiti Assn. Jessica joined us there at 5 days old.  My husband and I decided in 1999 to move to Auckland where we attended Beachlands Maraetai when my youngest Chloe was born in 2000.  All three graduated Playcentre and Beachlands Maraetai awarded me the honour of life membership. I had many years in various roles for the previous Tamaki Assn.  Over the subsequent years I attended every workshop, course, or event on offer.  Later facilitating and writing programmes for local and national Playcentre.  In 2015 I completed a Bachelor of Pacific Education (ECT) later gaining my full teacher registration two years later whilst working and managing Preschools in Auckland. I am blessed to have been part of the Playcentre Aotearoa Professional Learning and Development Team for over ten years now.  

My speciality is Pacific language, culture, and identities, especially sharing my own Cook Island heritage.  I love the warmth of Pacific Island values and ways of being, nature, being creative, exploring and discovering life through the eyes and hearts of pre-schoolers.  I aim to empower and awhi adults to engage and be in awe of these discoveries, going back to the basics of relationships first.  Whānau Tupu Ngatahi.



UNI Facilitator

Shekinah Graham


Ko Karioi te Maunga  

Ko Whaingaroa te moana  

Ko Tainui te waka   

Ko Waikato te iwi  

Ko Mai Uenuku Ki Te Whenua te Marae  

Ko Tamainupō te Hapū  

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha  

Ko Shekinah tēnei e mihi atu.   

  Kia ora my name is Shekinah   

I am from Waikato, I grew up in Waiakato and I am now living in Tāmaki Makaurau.  

I am one of the PLD facilitators in the upper north island region and my main focus and goal will be to share mātauranga Māori with you that will then allow you to  show bicultural leadership in your centre. 

UNI Facilitator

Claire Bermingham

Kia ora koutou katoa 

Ko Claire Bermingham tōku ingoa 

Kia ora, my name is Claire Bermingham.  I am born and raised in South Auckland and have been involved with Playcentre for over 9 years as a parent at Bombay and Drury Playcentres with my 3 children.  During that time, I have worked as a workshop and SPACE facilitator, commenter, session facilitator, and Tangata Tiriti house representative for the Counties Playcentre Cluster. Playcentre sparked my passion for education and inspired me to pursue my degree in early childhood education. Now my youngest child has started school I saw the opportunity to join the PLD team as a way to give back to my Playcentre village and to support centres, as well as further develop my facilitation skills.  I am very passionate about child-led play (the messier the better!), inclusive centre culture, supporting emergent leadership, as well as curriculum planning and evaluation.  With my knowledge and experience as a Playcentre parent and early childhood teacher, I look forward to helping centres reach their potential. 

He waka eke noa – we are all in this together. 

Central North Island (CNI) Facilitators

CNI Facilitator

Karina Hart


Tēnā koutou katoa 

Ko Karina tōku ingoa 

Playcentre has been a huge part of my life, I am a playcentre child and have been a playcentre parent since 2001, being a part of the PLD team for the last 8years has given me the opportunity to see, hear and feel what Playcentre looks like for individual Centre’s all-over New Zealand, I feel privileged to have been able to and continue to share this journey, support and also encourage empowerment, all the while learning something from every Centre I visit, there is so much value in tuakana teina. 

I have a huge passion for music and love to sprinkle this joy wherever I go. I believe Playcentre is the most amazing environment to foster inquisitive tamariki who are empowered to guide their learning journey. 

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini. 

I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts talents and strengths of my family tribe and ancestors. 


CNI Facilitator

Judy Gore


Tēnā koutou

Ko Judy Gore ahau, no Tauranga ahau.

Playcentre has been in my life for a while now, starting back when I joined with my first boy in 2001. When my youngest left Playcentre for school, I carried on with Playcentre, both as a volunteer at the WBoP Playcentre Association, and as employee (CSW, Facilitator, Tutor, and Session Support) and now with the PLD Team.  I love being part of the Playcentre Community and believe that Playcentre provides a perfect environment in which whānau thrive together. I thrive on Play at Playcentre, (sometimes the messier the better), providing opportunities for children to explore, experience and wonder.


CNI Facilitator

Jean Yern


Tēnā koutou, Ko Tainui te Waka, Ko Taupiri te Maunga, Ko Waikato te Awa, Ko Ngāti Tamaoho te Hapū, Ko Mangatangi te Marae, Ko Kieran taku hoa rangatira, Ko Olive rāua Ko Riley āku tamahine, Ko Jean taku ingoa, he Te Reo PLD  kaiako taku tūranga, no reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. 

Kia ora Im Jean one of the PLD Facilitators based in the Waikato, and I have an interest in the ways kaiako and kohungahunga can be supported through their Tikanga me ona reo journey. 

My approach to facilitating involves sharing traditional narratives and Māori creation stories (pūrākau) that can be used in our Playcentre kinaesthetic learning environments. My role is to share Te Ao Māori; the wonderful worldview, to achieve systemic change and help build confidence and cultural competency within Playcentre. 


CNI Facilitator

Deborah Armstrong

Lower North Island (LNI) Facilitators

LNI Facilitator

Liz Neill


E koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū. Appreciate the many voices of the forest. 

Kia ora koutou, 
I tipu ake ahau ki Tāmaki Makaurau. 
E noho ana ahau ki Te Awakairangi. 
Ko Liz Neill tōku ingoa. 

Tokowhā āku tamariki, all grown now. 
I have been involved in Playcentre since 1990, when my first son was a baby. We started in Auckland Association, including being one of the founding families of the Auckland Playcentre School, later moving to the Hutt Valley. I’ve held various Playcentre roles over the years such as volunteer centre and Association roles, Education tutoring and marking, Space facilitation, Centre Support and three years in the LNI Regional Office. I’ve been a part of the Professional Learning and Development Team for well over a decade now. My passion is Play, and the Outdoors, sharing the importance of unstructured and uninterrupted Play for our tamariki as they learn and grow. I’m loving exploring some of this through pūrakau and story telling. 
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. 


Upper South Island (USI) Facilitators

USI Facilitator

Viv Butcher


Kia ora koutou. Ko Viv Butcher toku ingoa.  

I live in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. I have been involved in Playcentre in many roles locally, regionally and nationally. I have always been passionate about the adult education on offer for Playcentre parents and have tutored the Education programme for many years and joined the PLD team in 2018. 

I also enjoy creating with fibre –especially wool and harakeke and love to spend time in my workshop felting, dying, weaving, spinning, knitting, making, fiddling –ie playing! 

 We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing 

George Bernard Shaw 


USI Facilitator

Bridgit Knowles

Lower South Island (LSI) Facilitator

LSI Facilitator

Helen Thomlinson


Kia ora e te Whānau

Nō Wānaka ahau. Kei Ōtepoti (Dunedin) tōku kāinga ināianei.

Ko Helen ahau.

When I became a Whaea (Mum) in 2005, I knew I would take my Tamariki to Playcentre! I had such very fond memories of my own time at Wānaka Playcentre.

While being at Playcentre with my sons, I went through the training, and started as a paid Facilitator at my own Centre (Mornington, Dunedin).

I found my time as a member, and an employee, very inspiring and when the new role of Centre Support Worker (CSW) was initiated, I took on this role for some of the Ōtepoti (Dunedin) Playcentre’s.

What I loved the most about this mahi were the strong nga hononga (relationships) I was able to grow with my Centre Whānau. They all taught me heaps!

I stopped working as a CSW at the start of 2021 and joined the PLD team.

I am currently attending Sawyers Bay Playcentre in Dunedin with my mokopuna, Juni. That is keeping me pretty busy.

Ka kite ano.


LSI Facilitator

Elaine Thompson


I am a professionally qualified teacher with many years of experience in the education world.  I love learning, and I am happiest working alongside anyone of any age in any environment when we are exploring, sharing, building and growing together as our journeys overlap.

I began teaching in mixed ability, mainstream classes in primary schools in the UK and I extended my career through becoming the first Education Officer at Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre, a charitable trust for education in agriculture and rural life.  After immigrating to New Zealand, I extended my career again through qualifying as an early childhood teacher and working in a number of Early Childhood Education Centres locally in the Queenstown area.  Recently, I have been sharing the adventure of winter seasons at Coronet Peak and Cardrona, marrying my love of teaching and mentoring with my love of the mountains and mountain culture.  Two years ago I qualified as a facilitator for SPACE and I am passionate about building SPACE sessions locally through the Salvation Army as a volunteer. I love the way that relationships with parents bring a richness and depth to my practice as a teacher as well as to my life as a mum myself.  And, through my passion for SPACE and for working alongside parents, I have most recently found my home with Playcentre, taking on the positions of Facilitator, Centre Advisor and Education and PLD Tutor for Playcentre Aotearoa.

I have learned over the years that the key to longevity in this career that I love is to be mindful of the importance of wellness.  It is, in fact, the key to all for all.