New announcement. Learn more

Meet our Team

Harold the Giraffe Trustee Member Melanie Rouse -Chair

Melanie Anderson

Melanie joined the Life Education Trust Hamilton on 14/12/2014 and has been the Chair since.

Serving as the Managing Director of Harcourts Hamilton Rentals for the past 12 years, Melanie is an expert in body corporate management, property management, and financial advisory. Melanie has led an impressive career throughout her 14 years working in the real estate industry.

In 2020, she placed second at the Harcourts National Awards for Overall Excellence and has received the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Property Industry from the Property Council of New Zealand. Melanie has also sat on several panels including the 2021 Property Investment Forum alongside Tony Alexander, Nick Goodall and Nikki Connors. In addition to this, Melanie was the REINZ Regional Sector Group Representative for Property Management for 8 years, and supports both other local charities, the Waikato Women’s Refuge and Hospice Waikato.

Outside of work and volunteering, Melanie is a keen cook and enjoys spending time with her partner Scott and their two sons Oliver and Austin.

Harold the Giraffe Trustee Member Jenny Mills - School Principal

Kwan Ng
Marketing - Trustee

Kwan is a Media Director at KINGST with an extensive career in media and advertising. She is part of the Senior Leader team servicing two regional offices with a strong local business network. Kwan has supported several non-for-profit organisations in the past, some of them include Hospice, Phillip Search & Rescue Trust as well as Graeme Dingle Foundation. Kwan is also a current board member for Volunteering Waikato, she is passionate about making a positive contribution to our local community and the value that smart partnerships can bring to an organisation’s strategic direction.

Outside of work, Kwan is the mother of two exuberant boys aged 10 & 12, she can be found cheering on the side-line of a soccer field and attending art exhibitions.

Harold the Giraffe Trustee Member Ross Hargood - Trustee

Jim Dryburgh

Hi there.  I am Jim, a Scotsman brought up in a wee seaside town; Dunoon in Argyll on the West Coast of Scotland.Prior to coming to New Zealand I enjoyed a thirty year career in the British Army, travelling widely, which is why our five children are born in Cyprus, England, Belgium and New Zealand!

I arrived in New Zealand in 2005 and did an almost seamless transfer from the British Army to the New Zealand Army. My career has been in military communications, with spells as a professional trainer, HR career manager and international relations practitioner. In January this year after 46 years of military service, shared between two commonwealth armies, I finally hung up my boots to become a Defence civilian and I am currently the Chief of Staff of the Chief Information Officer’s department at Defence.

I am a graduate of the Royal Military Sandhurst, a Justice of the Peace for New Zealand and I hold a
Masters Degree in Information Management from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria Unversity of Wellington. I am a qualified Chartered Manager and Fellow of both the Austaralasian Institute of Leadership and Management and the UK Chartered Management Institute. I am a Member of the NZ Institute of Directors, qualified as a Company Director and currently pursuing Chartered status through the Institute of Directors. I am also an accredited facilitator in the Arbinger Institute Philosophy of Outwards Mindset and an accredited practitioner of the Riders and Elephants Emotional Culture philosophy. I am the current chair of the Paraparaumu Memorial RSA Poppy Trust.

In what spare time I have these days, you will find me pottering in my robot factory (the shed at the end of the drive) making robot sculptures out of donated and scrounged junk!

Kirsty Findsen
Dept Chair

Phillip Cowie

I am recently retired from a lifetime career in the education sector including undertaking principal positions at schools in Hawkes Bay, King Country and Waikato. My last principal position was that of foundation principal at Rototuna Primary School from 2002 until 2008 having held previous principal positions in the Waikato at Pirongia and Bankwood Primary Schools.  From Rototuna Primary School I worked for the Education Review Office undertaking positions of reviewer, manager of review services. Most recently, up until my retirement in 2023 I held the role of Director Review and Improvement Servcies - Central Region. This role involved oversight of the evaluation of all schools and early childhood education services from Pukekohe in the north to Levin in the south (coast to coast).

"Throughout my career I have been committed to providing the best possible outcomes for children."

I have three adult children and four amazing granchildren who I enjoy spending time with. Being born and raised in Otago I am a passionate supporter of the Highlanders rugby team ( which I might add is not always easy). 

Harold the Giraffe Trustee Member Victoria Whitfield

Amy Robertson

I have been a teacher in Waikato schools since 2003 and have worked with all Primary School age groups during this time.  I have enjoyed a wide range of leadership roles and have always enjoyed leading in the Health and PhysEd curriculum area. 

In 2019 the opportunity came up to be part of starting a Forest School in the Waikato and working with students and families in this setting further developed my passion for Health and Wellbeing education and support.  Working as an Educator for LifeEd offers fantastic opportunities for teaching and learning alongside so many tamariki and rangatahi and supporting Health education across Hamilton schools.  The mobile classroom is such a fun and interactive learning environment and a great asset to be able to share with so many different schools in the area.  It’s also great to have such a popular and well-loved new best friend – Harold!

I am a mum of three – all boys – aged 12, 14 and 16, who keep me very busy (mostly sitting at rugby and cricket practices and games).  I’m a keen reader, novice gardener and outdoor enthusiast and my favourite way to spend leisure time is to gather with whanau and enjoy time together.

Anu Rekha Deo
Executive Officer

Anu Deo brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role at Life Education Trust. Currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Waikato, Anu's academic background is rooted in Education and Quality Assurance within both secondary and university contexts. With a strong foundation in these areas, she serves as a valuable asset in advancing the mission of Life Education Trust.

Originally hailing from the Fiji Islands, Anu is deeply rooted in diverse cultures and perspectives. Married and a proud mother of two children, she understands the importance of fostering a nurturing environment both at home and within the community.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Anu is a passionate sports enthusiast, particularly enjoying watching cricket and soccer matches. Her adventurous spirit extends beyond the sports field as she loves exploring the world and immersing herself in new experiences.

Anu's dedication to community work and helping others shines through in her commitment to making a positive impact. As a board secretary and with her extensive background, she is poised to utilize her expertise and skills to support Life Education Trust in its mission to empower and uplift communities.

Charnay Van Rooyen
Events & Marketing

Charnay moved up from Marlborough, where she was part of the Life Education Trust Marlborough team for almost two years.

"It is such a rewarding and fulfilling job and I am so excited to continue with the amazing work that Life Education Trust offers the tamariki and rangatahi in each community."

With her experience in organisation, marketing, fundraising and event management I am excited to bring my skills to this trust and see where it goes to benefit our community.

Charnay enjoys exploring all the wonders of New Zealand with her two primary aged children and husband.

"Recently we were visited by Steph Philburn and Harold in the Life Ed truck. Seniors covered topics on relationships, peer pressure, our identity and social influences. Our juniors learnt about friends, feelings and relationships.
Steph was a highly effective presenter and our students were fully engaged during their lessons. Classes were involved as individuals, pairs, small groups and as a whole class. Steph related very well to our mixed age group classes she was an animated and energetic facilitator.
Lessons were well organised, sequenced and skilfully delivered with the aid of audio visual material and of course Harold. Harold is always popular, even with our most senior year 8 students. Follow up material and activities were also worthwhile.
The Life Education Trust provides a very valuable support to our curriculum and we are delighted to have these worthwhile lessons on offer. We are very grateful to have the opportunity to access this wonderful resource. Often small rural schools miss out on things because of distance and small roll numbers so we are very pleased to have the Life Ed resource visit us.
Our thanks go out to the sponsors who make this all possible."

Allison Grave - Principal  Waingaro School

Take a look at how we help in Schools


This product has been added to your cart