About us

Grow Waitaha has supported schools in post-earthquake Canterbury through educational transformation. It continues to work with school communities through the process of educational change.

Our vision

“All ākonga are provided with innovative, connected and responsive teaching, learning experiences, pathways and environments. These will enable Māori to achieve success as Māori and all ākonga to thrive as culturally located learners and as citizens locally, nationally and globally.”

Our name

Grow – the intention to collectively grow and transform.

Waitaha – the abbreviated Māori name for the Canterbury area.

What we do 


  • co-design a range of opportunities with educators to connect, share and collaborate
  • work with schools within the rebuild programme, from the development of a brief to inhabitation
  • support schools through change with the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and Card Set (pdf) 
  • curate stories of change and innovation
  • share and co-design resources with, and for school communities
  • monitor and evaluate the impact of our input
  • commit to being sector-led.  

Find out more in the Grow Waitaha case study (pdf). 

Who we are

Governed by the Ministry of Education and Ngāi Tahu–Mātauraka Mahaanui, Grow Waitaha is a partnership between its governors, four education providers (CORE Education, Evaluation Associates, Leadership Lab and Massey University–Toi Āria), Canterbury schools and their communities.


Michaela Allen, Ministry of Education 
Michaela Allen oversees the administration of Grow Waitaha and is the link person between the Ministry, providers, and schools. She is a multi-tasker who loves putting plans into action. Michaela brings an experience of primary school teaching and parenting to her role. 

Liz Brown, Mātauraka Mahaanui
Liz Brown is the chair of Mātauraka Mahaanui and holds a governance role on the Grow Waitaha project. She ensures that Māori students' success and Ngāi Tahutanga are key considerations in all decisions. Liz enables a local Ngāi Tahu perspective to be embedded in initiatives, from the conceptual stage to the delivery. 

Helen Cooper, CORE Education
Helen Cooper is co-leader of the Grow workstream where she helps schools connect, collaborate, and cross-pollinate ideas. She is also in Puaka where she supports the overall direction of the Grow Waitaha initiative. Helen is an experienced education leader who enjoys expanding her own professional learning while also supporting schools and kura nationwide.

Dr Cheryl Doig, Think Beyond 
Dr Cheryl Doig coordinates the Grow Waitaha governance group and supports all other workstreams in their combined mahi. She has wide ranging experiences in education, health, leadership, and governance. Cheryl's great sense of curiosity and collaboration helps her to explore future possibilities and influence others. 

Steve Edwards, Evaluation Associates 
Steve Edwards has a range of roles across the Grow Waitaha project. He works in the Evaluate workstream to monitor the progress and impact of Grow Waitaha. He is one of the leaders of the Navigate workstream and he works directly with schools as a Navigator utilising his extensive experience in leading professional learning. 

Dr Chris Jansen, Leadership Lab
Dr Chris Jansen co-leads the Grow workstream and facilitates various Grow initiatives. He also works as a Navigator with various schools. Chris enjoys exploring future-focused pedagogies and shares his experiences and expertise at workshops and conferences around New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific, and Asia.

Garry Williams, Ministry of Education
Garry Williams is a member of the Grow Waitaha governance group. He enjoys exploring how systems can work better for users and builds commitment and enthusiasm for change. Garry brings flexibility to different situations and a knowledge of how collaborative partnerships can utilise strengths together.