Categories: News

Education stars shine in Queen’s Birthday Honours

A dozen education sector professionals have new letters after their names as recipients of Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Teachers, principals, lecturers and education programme founders are among the New Zealanders to appear on this year’s honours list for their services to education.

The following, in alphabetical order, are 2021 recipients of the title, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit: 

APPLEYARD, Mr David John (Dave) – For services to education

Mr Dave Appleyard has been involved with education for 41 years and was Principal of Rata Street School in Naenae from 2002 to 2020, challenging the view that a school’s decile is a proxy for quality.

Mr Appleyard has overseen growth in the school’s roll and positive reviews from the Education Review Office. He has carefully selected charitable partnerships to match actual needs in the school. He was a key driver of improving internet access at the school and in Naenae homes, working with the TAKA Trust to obtain laptops and broadband for his pupils, and secure free wi-fi for educational use at the school through the Equitable Digital Access Project. He has overseen the early adoption of a flipped classroom approach to drive learning through the strengths and areas of growth of the children. He co-led the Naenae and Stokes Valley Kahui Ako – Community of Learning and initiated a Gifted Kids Programme one day a week (now Mindplus). He represented Wellington’s schools in low socio-economic areas on the Ministry of Education’s sector advisory group to replace the decile funding system. Mr Appleyard co-led a research project investigating literacy skills drop-off over holiday breaks and means of prevention, sharing the research with other educators nationally.


BURT, Mrs Dorothy Joy – For services to digital learning

Mrs Dorothy Burt co-established the Manaiakalani programme in 2006, which is Treaty of Waitangi-based and involves schools, teachers, students, whānau and their community in a partnership enhanced by technology.

Established to accelerate academic progress and deliver digital learning outcomes in low socioeconomic communities, Manaiakalani now has an outreach programme with more than 100 schools across Aotearoa. Since inception Mrs Burt has led the Manaiakalani education programme for schools in Auckland and the twelve outreach communities around Aotearoa. Research on Manaiakalani by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre has shown significant improvement in student achievement, particularly in writing. She established the Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher Academy in 2013, which has allowed groups of teachers in successive years to extend the possibilities of students through innovative solutions. She co-established the Digital Teacher Academy in 2014, an effective induction pilot for new teachers, and has since scaled this approach to a Digital Fluency Intensive programme offered to all Manaiakalani teachers. She has led a team training thousands of teachers in effective pedagogy for digital learning. This supported a seamless transition to online learning for Manaiakalani schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. She is widely known for her work in digital learning and has presented to many conferences nationally and internationally. Mrs Burt’s teaching career spans primary, intermediate and secondary schools.


DODDS, Mrs Margaret Ann -For services to special education

Mrs Margaret Dodds has been an active and dedicated member of Special Education New Zealand, having been Team Leader of Special Education in several high schools and Principal of Waitaha Special School from 2008 to 2018.

As Principal of Waitaha, Mrs Dodds was jointly responsible with the Principal of Lemonwood Grove in establishing the new Lemonwood Grove full primary and Waitaha special education schools’ side-by-side. She played a key role in relocating Waitaha to a new purpose-built facility in Rolleston in 2018 with four satellite provisions across four other mainstream schools. She ensured her students had an everyday school experience, introducing new curriculum, school dances, camps and inter-school sports, and created an innovative sensory-motor therapy room designed to meet students’ sensory needs, enhance self-regulation and develop motor functions. She ensured that students’ best interests were the core of all decisions, and had an open-door policy for staff and whānau, ensuring they received the support, resources and information available to help their students achieve. After retiring in 2018, Mrs Dodds was called upon by the Ministry of Education on two occasions due to her leadership skills to cover primary school principal roles at short notice.


DOWNES, Dr Graeme Alexander – For services to music and music education

Dr Graeme Downes is a rock musician and founding member of ‘The Verlaines’ and a former senior lecturer at the University of Otago.

Dr Downes established The Verlaines in 1981 and has been performing and recording under that name for 40 years. He is the songwriter, vocalist and producer for the band. The Verlaines have released 11 albums and two EPs over this period. The band played in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, with some shows in the United Kingdom. The group has become an integral part of the ‘Dunedin Sound’ and he has orchestrated three concerts of works by these bands, including the Chills, Clean and Straightjacket Fits under the ‘Tally Ho’ banner. Outside of the band, he has lectured in the Department of Music developing New Zealand’s first rock music degree, before becoming Head of Department of Music in 2012. With a PhD on the music of Mahler, he has provided pre-concert lectures for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Southern Sinfonia/DSO and has contributed to music programmes on Radio New Zealand. He provides musicologist support in the area of copyright disputes. Dr Downes has served as a songwriter ambassador for the Australasian Performing Right Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society, supporting music creators.


ELLERY, Mr Miles Denis – For services to youth, education and the community

Mr Miles Ellery has worked with at risk young people with psychological, behavioural, emotional and learning difficulties.

Mr Ellery was Director of Edward Seager School at Sunnyside Hospital from 1979 to 1995, overseeing positive results from students able to be successfully reintegrated into regular high school, or into employment, after completing programmes at Edward Seagar. He has provided leadership to several professional bodies, including as Secretary at regional and national levels for New Zealand Association for Research in Education, New Zealand Psychological Society, and New Zealand Association of Counsellors. He was Chairman of Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) Shirley Cluster management committee for six years. He was Head of Guidance at Shirley Boys High School in Christchurch for 15 years. He initiated and had a significant leadership role in implementing the nationwide Lions Quest Life Skills education programmes for adolescents and their families. He was Secretary of Quest Skills for Adolescence Board from 1986 to 1994 and chaired the New Zealand and Pacific Lions Leadership and Development programme from 1990 to 1996. He has been a Lions District Governor, as well as Christchurch Host Lions Club past President and Secretary since 1990. Mr Ellery led several successful Lions fundraisers and has held roles with Scouts, YMCA and church youth groups.


FAITOTONU, Mr Siale Katoa Latu Pasa, JP – For services to Pacific education

Mr Siale Faitotonu has supported Pacific children and young people in education in Christchurch for more than 30 years, outside of his regular employment at the University of Canterbury (UC).

Mr Faitotonu established Fe’ungamalie Language Nest at Rowley School in 1995, playing a key role in transitioning children and families of Fe’ungamalie to merge with Tongan Kaha’u Ola Early Childhood Centre in 2005, ensuring this centre could continue when facing difficulties. He was Licensee for Kaha’u Ola until 2009. He initiated a new pan-Pacific ECE to serve West Christchurch following earthquake displacement of Pasifika families, which opened in 2017. He established a Tongan language homework programme through Kahoa Tauleva Christchurch Trust in 2004. He facilitated resources including education students from UC and second-hand computers for the programme’s homework centres, helping establish a computer skills programme for students and parents. He translates education material into Tongan and developed resources for non-Pasifika teachers working in ECE nationally. As no Christchurch school could support NCEA Lea Faka-Tonga Levels 1 through 3, he established a programme for Tongan language students across 19 schools to be tutored through afterschool classes. Mr Faitotonu is involved with a Pacific Education Leadership course and the Minister of Education’s Pacific Advisory Board for Educational Renewal of Christchurch following the earthquakes.


HAQUE, Mr Iqbal Manzoor (Bali) – For services to education governance

Mr Bali Haque has been involved with education for more than 40 years and been Principal of three secondary schools and of the National College of the Cook Islands.

Mr Haque has been a key contributor to a number of Ministry of Education advisory policy groups and has actively supported and mentored beginning and experienced principals. He was on the national executive of the Post Primary Teachers Association and was also President of the Secondary Principals Association of New Zealand. He was Deputy Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority from 2006 to 2011, during which he led major NCEA reforms and worked internationally with the Qualifications authorities of Ireland, India and Thailand. Over the past two years, he has led an independent Minister of Education-appointed taskforce to review the governance, management and administration of the New Zealand compulsory schooling system. He is a member of the Board of Ako Mātātupu – Teach First New Zealand, which focuses on addressing inequities in the education system, especially those facing Māori and Pacific communities. He is a Board member of the Toi Foundation. Mr Haque has written two books ‘Changing our Secondary Schools’ and ‘New Zealand Secondary Schools and Your Child: A Guide for Parents’.


HART, Mr Bruce Henry – For services to education

Mr Bruce Hart was the Principal of Heretaunga College from 2003 to 2019 and has led innovative developments across all areas of education.

The senior curriculum reform that Mr Hart led at the College in 2017 and 2018 was identified in the Education Gazette as showing good practice, due to its innovative approach and followed the creation of modern learning environments throughout the school. He played a major role in the establishment of the College’s Hospitality School, making it the only high school in the country to offer the New Zealand Certificate in Basic Cookery Level 3. He helped to develop the Upper Hutt Schools Cluster into a collaboration of schools implementing improvements in teaching, a precursor to the national development of Communities of Learning – Kahui Ako in 2015. He represented the Secondary Schools Principal’s Council on several advisory groups from 2016 to 2019. He was active in the Greater Wellington Secondary Schools Principal’s Association and was Chairperson of the Upper Hutt Principal’s Association. Mr Hart currently works as a Learning Support Impact Coach for Upper Hutt schools, which is focused on improving the way schools and community groups work together to get better outcomes for children who need additional support for their learning.


JACKSON, Mrs Sally Anne, JP – For services to special education

Mrs Sally Jackson has been active in the disability sector for 52 years and a leader in the education system for 40 years.

Mrs Jackson pioneered work on learning design for children with autism, including an assessment class at Naenae School in Wellington, to determine the supports needed to enable children with additional learning needs to be included in classes with their peers. From 1996 to 2002, she was project manager for implementation of the ‘Special Education 2000’ policy, which aimed to create a fully inclusive education system in Aotearoa by the year 2000. She was inaugural Board of Trustees Deputy Chairperson at Upper Hutt College, where she was instrumental in disestablishing segregation of students with additional needs in favour of inclusive practices. In her Ministry of Education senior manager roles, she has led a number of initiatives including the establishment of Resource Teachers for students with learning and behaviour challenges, the national communication service, interpreter support and a Deaf education strategy for Aotearoa, and a Specialist Teacher Qualification among other projects. Recently as Chief Advisor Learning Support, she has led the Ministry’s engagement with the disability sector. Mrs Jackson initiated the development of the First Signs programme for deaf children to develop early language through supporting families with New Zealand Sign Language in the home.


KERR, Mrs Shirley Diane – For services to mycology

Mrs Shirley Kerr has been involved with mycology since 1999 and has been recognised by professionals nationally and internationally for her contributions to knowledge in this field.

Mrs Kerr has a background in education, teaching at several secondary schools between 1973 and 2017, specialising in biology. She has been a driving force for mycological exploration and education in the Bay of Plenty area. She has built a database of species on her website Kaimai Bush and in 2019 published ‘A Field Guide to New Zealand Fungi’, which has been highly acclaimed nationally and internationally for its accessibility. She has found at least five previously undescribed species and recorded in excess of 600 different species. She served on the council of the Fungal Network of New Zealand (FUNNZ) for 15 years, was Treasurer from 2009 to 2011, and played a key role in organising four annual New Zealand Fungi Forays. The Fungal Forays attract scientists from New Zealand and overseas. Mrs Kerr’s voluntary education efforts in mycology have included running workshops for upskilling in macro photography for botanical work, fostering children’s interest at national forays, organising field trips, public speaking engagements, and providing samples of Landcare New Zealand’s Herbarium or for overseas examination.

LYONS, Mrs Colleen Janice – For services to netball and education

Mrs Colleen Lyons has since been involved in every aspect of netball since 1965, including playing, umpiring, coaching, managing, and governance.

Mrs Lyons gained her first umpiring qualification in 1972 and continues to umpire at a local, regional, and national level. She was honorary secretary of the Otago Netball Union/Association (now Dunedin Netball) from 1976 to 1989. She was a member of the Netball Otago Board in 2010 and 2011, and of the Dunedin Netball Board from 2013, including Chair in 2018. Since 2012 she has been a Trustee on the Board of the indoor sport and recreation Edgar Centre. She was appointed as a teacher at Queen’s High School from 1982 and as Head of Department from the mid-1980s. She was involved in the development of Careers and Transition education in New Zealand, led the introduction of transition programmes from school to work, and developed initiatives such as the national Certificate in Early Childhood. She was Assistant Principal at Queen’s High from 1997 until her retirement in 2008. She co-ordinated more than 30 netball teams every year, as well as coaching, managing, fundraising, supporting young umpires, and helping with every South Island Secondary School tournament. Mrs Lyons has been heavily involved with the Ex Girls Association since 1968, including time as Chair.


VARNEY, Mrs Helen Theresa Cecilia – For services to education, particularly Pacific education

Mrs Helen Varney has been a well-regarded principal for many years, most recently as Principal of Target School, Totara Vale from 2012 to 2020.

Mrs Varney oversaw growth in the roll of Target School, of which 30 percent are learning English as a second language and received strong Education Review Office reports during her tenure. She has been Secretary of the New Zealand Pasifika Principals Association (NZPPA) since 2016, President of North Shore Principals in 2016 and of the Auckland Primary Principals Association in 2018. In 2020, she was appointed Director and Lead Facilitator of Tautai o le Moana – Navigators of the Ocean, a partnership with the Ministry of Education, NZPPA and New Zealand Principals’ Federation. She ran the successful pilot of this programme over 18 months, which supports principals of Pasifika students to build their capability as school leaders to improve outcomes for Pacific learners, and is leading the initiative into its scale-up with the next cohort of principals. She is a qualified facilitator in the Māori Achievement Collaboratives for school leaders to improve outcomes for Māori learners. She has contributed an Auckland and Pasifika perspective to numerous Ministry of Education and inter-agency working groups. Mrs Varney has mentored teachers to become principals.



Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.

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