Our Trustees

Paul Conder (Chair)

Paul is a chartered accountant and a member of the Institute of Directors of New Zealand. He is the Director of All Green Lights Limited. Paul also chairs both the mainly music New Zealand & International Trusts. He has held a number of board roles over his career. He was previously Chief Financial Officer at Unitec and prior to that Bay of Plenty District Health Board. For more on Paul see the Our Director page at All Green Lights Limited.

“I am excited to be part of the Ako Hiko Education Trust as a way of ensuring all our students have the same opportunity to achieve at school as students from more advantaged backgrounds. This is especially important for students, like myself, that experience some form of learning disability.”

Kaaren Holland-Kara - Executive Officer

Kaaren Holland-Kara is married with 1 adult and 2 teenage children and is a qualified Accountant. She was appointed as the Executive Officer for Ako Hiko Education Trust in April 2015. She has lived in Mt Albert for 28 years, with her children all attending local schools. She says “I love this community and have committed myself to the local education system.” She has 12 years experience as a School Trustee, having been both Treasurer and Chairperson for Owairaka Primary School, and Chairperson at Kowhai Intermediate School.

“I was already aware of the success of the Manaiakalani Education Programme and am very grateful to have been a founding trustee, and now Executive Officer, hoping to emulate this success in the Mt Albert/Mt Roskill area. To be part of an organisation striving to provide the best educational opportunities for students, and support the amazing work being done by our local Principals and Schools, is exciting.”

Elaine Niven, JP

Elaine Niven is Electorate Secretary to Michael Wood Member of Parliament for Mt Roskill. She was Electorate Secretary to Michael’s predecessor, Hon Phil Goff for 19 years. She is a foundation member of the Trust, a Justice of the Peace, Marriage Celebrant, the mother of 3 adult children and she is also a very proud grandmother to her little granddaughter.

“When I heard about the plan to form the Ako Hiko Education Trust I was really keen to get involved. Through the Member of Parliament’s office I see a lot of people who want the very best outcomes for their children but cannot afford the latest technology. I am passionate about providing an equitable learning environment for our young people by equipping them with the tools to embrace e-learning in this modern world whilst also providing training for educators to keep several steps ahead of their students. I am proud to be part of an enthusiastic group of people who are committing to ensuring that no child is left behind in our society.”

Giora (Gary) Barzilay

Gary has been living in New Windsor for the last 10 years and has been involved in helping the New Windsor school and community as a real estate salesperson over the last few years. He has joined Ako Hiko as a trustee in 2016 after seeing the potential the trust has in influencing how students learn, and the impact it has on their education.

Jenny Merrington

Jenny Merrington was a teacher for many years. While studying towards a Diploma in Educational Technology, she moved to Unitec where she initiated online collaborative programmes between eleven schools. Most recently she was employed by the University of Auckland as an e-learning and literacy facilitator working in a number of schools across Auckland. Now retired, she volunteers at the Mount Roskill Citizens Advice Bureau and enjoys spending time with family.

“Since the early days of floppy disks, I observed the power of technology to enable children to create, communicate and learn. It is a privilege to be part of the Ako Hiko Trust enabling all children in our area to have those experiences.”


Diana Sharma

A passionate believer in the power of education to create brighter futures, Diana Sharma has spent more than a decade in the education and training industry - developing, implementing and scaling innovative skill development models for global impact. Presently as Mission Director at Launchspace, she leads a specialist team pioneering a unique skill development model based on whole brain thinking to prepare candidates for careers in the technology sector.

In her previous role as General Manager - Alliances and Partnerships at Unitec, she was instrumental in the institution securing skill development partnerships with Australian, Saudi Arabian, and Indian business and education organisations. Diana also played an integral role in developing partnerships with Fortune 500 companies IBM and Concentrix and Unitec’s joint venture with The MindLab by Unitec and Tech Futures Lab.

Diana is also completing a Masters in Technological Futures, and working on an online platform, My Story Home.

“This is a cause that is close to my heart. I believe that education is the key to a bright future for humanity. And the next generation deserves better and more accessible education. Ako Hiko Trust is making education accessible, which helps prepare our young ones for a future that is yet to be created. I am truly honoured to be a part of this journey and to assist in unfolding a new world.”


James Hopkins

A former primary school teacher in both London and Auckland, James has been a lead facilitator and education consultant with CORE Education since 2015. Having been part of the front line and in class delivery with Ako Hiko schools, James transferred into a national role in mid 2017 and returned as a trust member in early 2018. He has held multiple leadership roles in schools on Auckland’s North Shore and continues to be passionate about making a difference through the leveraging of digital technologies.

“When supporting learners in this area, it was fantastic to be part of their experience and passion as they worked with digital technology. To be part of the AHET and play a small role in providing equity and access is both humbling and incredibly rewarding.”

Lou Reddy

Lou Reddy, is currently the Enterprise Manager of Te Whangai Trust. He was a Deputy Principal at Wesley Intermediate till 2017 and is now a member of the Board of Trustees at the school. Lou is involved at the board level on a number of collective impact organisations such as the PETER Collective, Roskill Together and The Big Shift. Lou believes that together we can achieve more in the areas of Educational, Social and Environmental Outcomes.

Nigel Davis

Nigel is the Principal of Wesley Intermediate School. He is the convener of the Principals group and as such is the Principals’ representative to the Ako Hiko Education Trust. Nigel is one of the last remaining original principals and is a highly experienced leader. He has worked in Mt Roskill for over two decades and is heavily involved in supporting the community.