Our Trustees

Elaine Niven, JP (Acting Chair)

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.”

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.”

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.”


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.

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.”

Darby Healey

Darby Healey is a partner at KPMG and lives in Mount Albert. She is married to a secondary school principal and has 3 daughters who all attend local schools. Darby has lived in the area since 2002, and in her free time can be found watching her kids play a multitude of sports, or walking up Owairaka with her husband. Darby also volunteers with Springboard Trust, which provides coaching to principals and senior leadership teams of low decile schools.

“As a parent of a child who needs technology support to learn, I know first-hand how critical this can be to children’s achievement. We live in an age where we know many children learn differently, and not everyone has access to the tools they need. I am so proud to be part of Aiko Hiko Trust who are working to make learning equitable. The work they do is not limited to a session in a classroom, it encompasses children being engaged and involved in their learning, developing themselves, building their own confidence and feeling competent in a digital world. You can’t underestimate the outcomes and the impact they have to our society.”

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.