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Presenters' profiles

Get to know the presenters


Karen O’Leary

Karen is an actress and writer, known for roles in the films What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and The Breaker Upperers (2018) and star of the TV show Wellington Paranormal, which first screened in 2018 and is a spin-off from What We Do in the Shadows.

She is also an early childhood teacher (head teacher at Adelaide Early Childhood Centre in Newtown) and has recently fronted a NZEI Te Riu Roa video (December 2019) campaign to gain public public support to close the pay gap between qualified early childhood teachers and other teachers.

Described as a ‘Wellingtonian through and through’, she grew up in Miramar and was educated at Wellington High and Victoria University.

Suzy Cato

Suzy is a well-known children's show presenter, best known as the host of several New Zealand children's television programmes, notably Suzy's World and You and Me (with over 2000 episodes between 1993 and 1998).

Born in Brisbane, Suzy moved to New Zealand as a child, living in Hamilton, Kaikohe and Dunedin before settling in Auckland, where she lives today.

Carmel Flynn

After nearly two decades of teaching in, and leading, kindergarten teams, I began my work with the Ministry of Education in July 2019 as a Senior Education Adviser, Auckland Central Schools. Working with school communities added depth and breadth to my knowledge, understanding and respect for the education sector. The role of a Curriculum Lead is part of a new and innovative function, one which is in tune with who I am as an education professional.

I am passionate about curriculum, reform and change, embracing Te Tiriti o Waitangi and advocating for strengthening wellbeing through curriculum design and delivery. By nature of inquiry, I am a curriculum activator and influencer. I am a leader who co-constructs and co-designs authentic curricular implementation within communities of learners.

Shawn Cooper

Kia ora koutou, ko Shawn Cooper tōku ingoa. I am the Senior Curriculum Lead (Secondary) based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

Equity and agency have guided my personal and professional journey and informed my teaching, professional inquiry and community involvement. Working across primary, secondary and tertiary settings in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand, I trust my varied experience in Science Education and Student Leadership Development will be useful in helping others implement rich, responsive teaching and learning programmes.

It is a privilege to be in a position to be a “curriculum activator” to foster improved wellbeing outcomes for our ākonga and our communities.

Tony Halalilo

It was the term “wellbeing” that led me to apply for the position of Curriculum Lead. I was keen to know more about what the Ministry felt worked in this area, because for me, this covered things like identity, cultural, learning, and physical disability, and sustainable education in Aotearoa.

I had worked in the Wellbeing space for 5-years at The University of Auckland and felt I could be more effective supporting change in the sector if I helped the Ministry understand the size and breadth of the meaning of Wellbeing. 

The most important aspect of our role is that we work to disseminate the Eurocentricity of our education system that has maintained inequitable outcomes for our ākonga.  I can help kaiako indigenise and create an education system that fits our geographical location in the Pacific, and meets the needs for learners, irrespective of their gender, their culture, and their abilities.  

As a Curriculum Lead, we promote the love of learning, and create facilities that promote whole community learning, that helps us eliminate undertones of racism and prejudice, through more accurate lens of learning, one that considers all voice and perspective, not solely a western one. 

Ma’ata Baranyi-Heimuli

Before joining the Ministry in January 2021, I had 22 years of primary teaching experience in state schools and Catholic schools in central Auckland including being a team leader, a cultural leader, and a lead teacher. I am passionate about curriculum, reform, and change, embracing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and advocating for strengthening wellbeing through curriculum design and delivery.

In the Curriculum Lead role, I look forward to helping kaiako shape their local curriculum in a way that strengthens the wellbeing of all learners. I am determined to guide kaiako through open learning conversations that will help develop key competencies and the cultural capabilities of all learners in our diverse city of Tāmaki Makaurau.

With my skills and knowledge of the NZ curriculum, I can support schools to explore how effective curriculum delivery impacts learners’ wellbeing holistically, culturally, mentally, and physically. I am fervent about improving the learning of all tamariki. One of my strengths is the ability to embed a Pacific lens to curriculum delivery. 


It is always important to lead by example, one must serve to lead.

Teina Hakaraia

Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Teina Hakaraia tōku ingoa, he Kaihautū Marautanga Māori taku mahi

I timata aku mahi I te Tāhuhu I te marama o Hongongoi I te tau nei, heoi anoo kua roa au e mahi ana I te ao o te kōhanga reo, me te aha, kua tipu ake I roto I a au te kōingo ki te whakaū I ngā tūāhuatanga Māori ki roto I ngā kaupeka katoa o tēnei mea te mātauranga ki roto I Aotearoa, maa roto I ngā marau-a-kura, a koohanga hoki. 

Ko te mahi a te Kaihautū Marautanga he tautoko I te kōkiritanga o ngā wawata mō te ako. 

I began as a Kaihautū Marautanga Māori in July 2021. I have spent a considerable amount of my teaching and learning years in Kōhanga Reo, and have developed the passion through necessity to implement Māori values and principles into the fabric of education in Aotearoa through working with Kōhanga, Kura, Wharekura to develop and strengthen local curriculum. 

The Curriculum lead role is the vehicle to support the implementation of aspirations.

Heoi anoo raa, me ngaa manaakitanga

Teacher presenters

Teacher School
Monique Cox-Timmer Papatoetoe West School
Te Mete Lowman Middle School West Auckland
Erina Henare-Aperahama Newton Central School, Grey Lynn Auckland