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Meet our Team

Harold the Giraffe Trustee Member Melanie Rouse -Chair

Melanie Rouse

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.

Merryn Telfer
Finance - Trustee

Merryn is an Associate Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Chartered Accountants, with over 14 years in the industry she is a huge help with keeping our numbers up to date. She works with commercial and primary sector entities focusing on providing a full range of accounting services to corporate farming entities with a high level of governance requirements. She is also part of the firm’s senior leadership team and enjoys seeing her team members grow and develop their careers.

Merryn joined Life Education as a trustee at the start in March 2021. She was attracted to the role remembering the magic Jo and Harold brought to school and is excited to be part of bringing Harold to a new generation of kids.

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!

Jude Bartram
Education - Trustee

Jude has spent her career in secondary school education and has worked mostly in Special Character schools.  "I spent 12 years living on site with my family at Waikato Diocesan School running the boarding house and most recently as the Head of Faculty for Religious Education at St John's
College in Hamilton." She has served on two school Boards of Trustees and is specifically interested in systems, policy development and organisational culture. 

I have lived in Hamilton for most of my life and have two adult children and recall the Life Education programme being a familiar part of my own children's schooling. I have huge faith in the potential of rangatahi to make our communities and wider society better and to improve their own lives by being well educated and well formed in their concepts of self and how they relate to others. For this reason I feel privileged to be part of the organisation that brings this valuable tool into the lives of other children in the Waikato.

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 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.

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.

Melissa de Jong
Executive Officer

Melissa has been living in the Waikato for the past 12 years and is new to the role as Executive Officer.

With her experience in grants and funding she is excited to take on the challenges of helping to fund Harold and the Life Education Trust charity.

Melissa has a very creative background as a florist by trade and still enjoys being a freelance florist over the wedding season.

Melissa is a mum of two young boys who are really involved in rugby and basketball, she helps to manager one of her sons teams and they enjoy being at games and trainings and enjoying all things outdoors.

"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

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