Our governance body (Council) members are responsible for ensuring our legislative functions are carried out effectively and efficiently and in the interests of the profession and the public. 

Councillors serve three-year terms. 

Seven members are elected by the profession: a teacher and professional leader from the ECE sector, a teacher and principal from both the primary and secondary sector, and a registered teacher from the initial teacher education or continuing teacher education sector. The last election was held in February 2022. 

Six members are appointed by the Minister of Education.

The current board took office on 1 July 2022. 

Robyn Baker ONZM - Chair

Robyn Baker was a secondary teacher and then a tertiary lecturer and manager between 1984 and 2000, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Council for Education Research until 2014, and since 2016 has been the Chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

In recent years she has also undertaken a range of work in the education sector, including coordinating the development of the Leadership Strategy for the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, chairing the selection and monitoring panel for the Teacher-led Innovation Fund, contributing to curriculum development initiatives within the Ministry of Education, and acting as Programme Director for the Curriculum Enhancement Programme at the University of Waikato. 

She was a member of the Royal Society Council from 1997-2002 and chaired its Education Committee.

Ripeka Lessels - Deputy Chair

Ripeka Lessels has 40 years’ experience in the education sector. Of Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, she has taught at primary and secondary levels and in Māori and English medium.

She is currently on the Principals Council of NZEI. She is active in Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa, holding roles in governance and strategic planning. She is also a member on the Maori medium governance group Te Rau Whakatipu within MOE. She was a member of the board that transitioned Kawerau North School to a Māori medium kura, Te Whata Tau o Putauaki, and she became the founding principal in 2012. 

Elg Anderson - Primary Teacher's Representative

Elg Anderson is a Te Ao Māori teacher at Fitzroy Primary School in New Plymouth and she is an accredited educational coach. She works with Tumuaki | Principals across the province on their Professional Growth Cycles/Appraisals. Elg leads regular professional development days with PCT 1 & 2 teachers and supports them on their journey towards full registration. Elg has a passion for making teaching an aspirational career choice and a rewarding, highly valued, sustainable career for those already in the profession.

In the past, Elg has been a member of the Teaching Council’s Registration and ITE Panels and now she returns to the Council as the Primary Teachers’ Representative.

Lorraine Carr - ECE Teacher's Representative

Lorraine Carr has previous experience as a new entrant teacher and a junior team leader at primary schools for 20 years, as well as early childhood education, 4 years, and Kindergarten teacher and head teacher over the past 9 years. Lorraine is part of the Kahui ako, supporting all ECE teachers in the Manawatu Eastern group. Lorraine was elected to the Teaching Council Board in 2020 and re-elected for the next three-year term. She has supported ECE Kaiako and used this position to engage with the wider ECE community.

Mike Connor - Secondary Teacher's Representative

Mike Connor has spent 35 years in the education sector. Originally from Blenheim, he has taught in a number of schools both here in Aotearoa and overseas, including three-years in the Netherlands and the UK, and two years in Samoa. 

Mike has been an assistant principal and a head of department, with his main fields being Geography and Economics, but he has also taught Maths, PE and te reo. He is keen on sport, travel, education, music, social justice issues, Te Reo Māori me ona Tikanga and enjoys meeting people from all facets of life. Mike is married with two children.

Dr. Fiona Ell - Teacher Educator's Representative

Dr. Fiona Ell is an Associate Professor in Te Kura Akoranga me Te Tauwhiro Tangata o Waipapa Taumata Rau, the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She is a teacher educator, with a particular interest in mathematics education and student teachers' practicum experiences.

She holds Tuturū/full teacher registration, and her background is in primary teaching. Her research and teaching focus on how people learn in complex environments, such as classrooms. She is interested in how people learn to teach in ways that promote equity and inclusion. Fiona led the teacher education programmes at Waipapa Taumata Rau between 2015 and 2021. She has contributed to Teaching Council approval panels and monitoring processes. 

Patrick (Pat) Newman MNZM - Primary Principal's Representative

Patrick (Pat) Newman, MNZM, Hon FNZEI, ANZPF, Dip Ed (Waikato), B.Ed. (Massey), Dip. Tchg, has been a primary teacher 46 years, 41 of these as a principal. He is currently Principal of Hora Hora School in Whangarei.

Pat has led initiatives to help principals and their staff rethink their curriculum, policies and practices to make a difference for Māori tamariki through kaupapa Māori. He has been involved with the Māori Achievement Collaborative (MAC) from inception in 2014, which is now utilised by hundreds of schools across Aotearoa. He has led a growing school, initiating a building programme centred around learning pedagogies. He is a Board Member of the Miriam Centre that provides whānau counselling for Te Tai Tokerau and has been President of Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association since 2007. A current member of the NZTC, having served eight years previously, including chairing the Risk and Audit Committee, and making a significant contribution to the Council's Complaints Assessment Committee, standing strongly against poor practice and supporting the just treatment of teachers. Pat was on the New Zealand Principals Federation Executive for 13 years, serving two years as National President representing NZ Principals nationally and internationally.

Pat was awarded MNZM, and previously ANZPF by the NZPF, and Hon FNZEI by NZEI, all for services to education children and teachers.

Melody Stuckey - ECE Service Leader's Representative

Melody Stuckey's (BEd, Dip Tch ECE) educational Leadership comes from a diverse perspective due to the privilege of working at Governance, Management and at Tertiary level.  She has a background in the tertiary sector and was the Programme Leader for the Early Childhood Degree at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute.  

Melody also comes with international experience and was a Head of School for Dulwich College International for 10 years. After returning to New Zealand six years ago, Melody moved into the role of National Coordinator for CECEAA (An Early Years Association). This position included organising and facilitating PLD across our member centres and was largely a support and guidance role. It also included representing the organisation on ECAC. 

Melody is currently the General Manager and Educational Leader for three private Early Childhood Centres in the Hawkes Bay.

Patrick Walsh MNZM - Secondary Principal's Representative

Patrick Walsh is the Tumuaki | Headmaster of Sacred Heart College in Auckland. He has an extensive track record of advocacy and leadership in the Education sector including 10 years on the SPANZ Executive including as President, Board Chair of SIEBA for four years, President of SPANZ Union for two years, member of the Education Advisory Group of Futurity which meets in Melbourne representing the NZ sector, former Chair of the NZ Law Society seminars on Education law, and nine years on the Disciplinary Tribunal of NZ Teachers Council.

Patrick was previously the Principal of John Paul College, Rotorua for 19 years, during which time he received the Neita Awarded educational leadership in 2018, was awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship in 2020, and was made a Member of the New Zealand order of Merit for contribution to education in 2022.

Hongyu (Carol) Cheng

Hongyu (Carol) Cheng Carol is a chartered accountant with risk, audit and financial expertise. She is a former Executive Director of PwC New Zealand and a Partner at Grant Thornton China. Carol is a Director and the Chair of the Risk Committee on the Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Board.

Her previous public sector governance role was as a Future Director at the Financial Markets Authority.

Karen Coutts

Karen Coutts (Ngāi Tahu and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) is an experienced director, advisor and manager with knowledge of disability issues in education. She is a director on the Board of Otago Polytechnic and is Iwi Co-Chair of the Otago Regional Skills Leadership Group. She also has experience in iwi governance including as a representative on Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

She has extensive managerial and operational knowledge of disability support services including being the Chair of Life Unlimited and experience on a number of appeal and adjudicatory bodies including the New Zealand Parole Board and committees that consider environmental issues.

Dagmar Vaikalafi Dyck

Dagmar Vaikalafi Dyck is interdisciplinary artist, researcher and art educator. She taught for 10 years at Sylvia Park School and as Deputy Principal she led Curriculum design whilst championing their Arts programme and whole school Inquiry learning. Dagmar is the Programme Manager - Pasifika at Tui Tuia | Learning Circle at the University of Auckland where she oversees the nation-wide Tapasā PLD delivery and other Pacific Education initiatives. Her Masters research focused on examining art teachers’ beliefs, attitudes and pedagogical practices and how these could affirm Pasifika students’ success as Pasifika.

Dagmar is the Chair of the Pacific Education Steerage Group for the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand. She sits on the NCEA Pacific Peoples Review Panel for the Ministry of Education, the Pacific Advisory Group for Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum and is on the Executive Committee for Aotearoa NZ Association of Art Educators (ANZAAE) and Aotearoa Tongan Teachers Association (ATTA).

John Tait

John Tait (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō ) is a respected principal and educator from the South Island. He has been Principal of Kaikōura High School since 2015 and was previously the Principal of Motueka High School. He is a former teacher of Te Reo Māori and has worked alongside Iwi guiding schools to connect with mana whenua and develop education partnerships. He has also been a facilitator for He Kākano, an evidence-based, cultural-responsiveness change programme for schools which builds on Te Kotahitanga. As Chief Executive of Te Tapuae o Rehua, which is a partnership between Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu and five South Island tertiary institutions, he worked on retaining Māori tertiary students.

John is also a past President of the Secondary Principals’ Association.