Meet the Board of Trustees

Parent-elected trustee Rosie Brown
Rosie lives in Oratia with her husband, Peter, and their two children – Emily, who attended Oratia District School from 2007-2013, and Lochlan, who is currently at the school. She is known in our community for her role as a celebrant and has officiated at many local weddings. She has a legal background and has worked as a legal secretary and a legal executive. She is also a qualified fitness instructor and life coach and teaches group fitness on a part-time basis. She enjoys beach trips, gardening and eating out. “I believe our children are our future and they need the best environment we can create in order to achieve the education, socialisation and life skills they all deserve,” she says. “My daughter has special needs and I am also very passionate about creating nurturing environments to support students who require extra assistance and the process of detecting when this support is required. I look forward to chatting and connecting further with all the wonderful parents, staff and caregivers of our amazing Oratia District School.”
Parent-elected trustee Clare Dobson
Clare lives at Piha with her husband Patrick and two children, who are at Oratia District School. She works part-time for a non-for-profit organisation on behalf of the telecommunications sector, helping facilitate working groups whose members bring varied viewpoints and experiences, and brings her experience as a facilitator, organiser and communicator to the Board of Trustees. She has been a trustee on the Piha Preschool Board and was previously the acting licensee. “Although I am not an educator I am genuinely interested in education and how it can enable our children and their communities,” she says. “There is always an aspect of change within New Zealand education, which for many parents can be unsettling, but can also be exciting if we dare to implement it in a positive way that is relevant to our communities. I look forward to learning about these future opportunities and working on governance strategies to support student achievement and the school’s future development.”
Parent-elected trustee Richard Mann
Richard, his son Keio (who is at Oratia School) and his wife Sue reside at Piha. He grew up in West Auckland and travelled and worked extensively abroad before settling back on the west coast more than 10 years ago. He loves travel and the outdoors, in particular anything involving the surf and snow. He is a landscape architect working in the field of parks design, planning and management policy, and also has a working knowledge of the education system, having lectured and coordinated course content for the landscape architecture programme at Unitec. “I believe my experience in tertiary education provides me with an appreciation of how important it is to develop a love of learning from an early age,” he says. “It is this that will inspire and motivate our children to continue to want to learn and adapt in a fast-changing world. I am keen to assist the school staff in providing the conditions and opportunities that will enable all students to succeed to their potential.”
School principal and board secretary  Sherilee Swanepoel
Contact: or 818 6216

Sherilee has been the principal at Oratia District School since 2008. She began her teaching career in 1982 after training in South Africa, and has taught at primary, intermediate and secondary schools, and lectured at tertiary level. She has a BA in History and Sociology and a Masters degree in Education Management. She loves cycling, music and film and is learning to play the bass guitar and ukulele.
Parent-elected trustee Emily Stenhouse-WhiteContact: Emily lives in Waiatarua with her husband and is a self-employed family law barrister and mediator, specialising in parenting and guardianship disputes and working in the domestic violence, CYFS and relationship property areas. An accredited mediator, she is on the governance board of West Auckland domestic violence prevention network WAVES, and a member of one of the Law Society Standards Committees. She is a lover of the Waitakere Ranges and has spent many hours walking in the ranges training for the Oxfam Trailwalker, which she completed in 2015 and in 2016. “I love the outdoors focus of our school and the willingness to try out new evidence-based teaching practices,” she says. “I value the school’s focus on meeting the needs of each of our children at their individual stage of learning, and making sure they have every opportunity to meet their potential and become well-rounded, contributing members of society.”
Parent-elected trustee Luke StopfordContact: A born and bred Westie, Luke has a long association with Oratia District School, having spent some time in its hallowed halls as a five-year-old. Now he and his wife, Dr Marcia Walker, have a son, Rex, at the school, with the younger brother, Quinn, set to start in 2017.Upon returning from foreign adventures, Luke completed a Bachelor of International Communication and was president of the Unitec Student Union. He worked in telecommunications in a PR and training role before moving into sales and then education. He obtained a Grad Dip Teaching (Primary) and taught at Gladstone Primary until Rex came along and Luke became his full-time carer. “Since then I have relieved sporadically or done release teaching, whilst raising our two little boys, trying to keep my wife happy and fishing as often as possible.”
Staff-elected trustee  Teena CainsContact:
Teena is the teacher in Room 18 and is responsible for the school’s kapa haka and te reo groups. She has three children of her own, who all attended Oratia. Her twin daughters are at Green Bay High School and her son is a mechanic. Teena spent several years managing national hotel chains in Australia before returning home to Auckland to have children. Inspired by her children’s teachers at Oratia, she decided to retrain and become a teacher herself. “I am passionate about teaching and learning in creative ways and crazy about science,” she says.
Co-opted Trustee Charles Wright
I’m delighted to have been recently co-opted as the treasurer on the school’s Board of Trustees. As a qualified accountant, I also hold a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Commerce and have worked both locally and abroad in a financial capacity across diverse industries from investment banking to manufacturing. Most recently I was seconded to NZ from Australia for five years as the head of finance for a leading multinational corporate. At the end of the contract, with the addition of two kiwis to our family and a supportive wife with a new qualification and a passion for teaching, we decided to stay here.
Like all parents, I appreciate the school and the critically important role that the teaching staff play in the development of our children. Accordingly, I’m committed to ensuring that the school’s resources are used optimally to deliver on the agreed outcomes, both to the school and the wider community. I’m also excited to be playing a pivotal role in formulating board policy, the on-going strategic review and effectiveness of the current programmes, and to strive for continual improvement of student progress and achievement.
In my short time on the board, my sense is that the school has a very capable board, that partner well with an enthusiastic and engaged principal in Sherilee. The principal and board all share a common understanding of the schools vision for education. I hope to draw on my commercial experience to ensure that the school is in good financial health and bring to the table independent thinking and a balanced view.
I am happily married to Tess Wright, classroom teacher in Rm 10/11. We have three children together, two of whom (William & George) currently attend the school and are fortunate to have fantastic teachers in Mrs Wills & Mr Morgan. We are very family focused and much of our spare time is spent together as a family, exploring the outdoors or entertaining with our friends.