We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

Judge Andrew Becroft, Children’s Commissioner

His Honour Judge Andrew Becroft was appointed a District Court Judge in 1996. In 2001, he became the Principal Youth Court Judge of New Zealand; a role that he held until 2016 when he was appointed the Children’s Commissioner.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Judge Becroft graduated from Auckland University in 1981 with a BA/LLB (Honours) degree. He practised in Auckland with the firm Fortune Manning & Partners until 1986 when he then assisted with the establishment of the Mangere Community Law Centre and worked there until 1993. He then worked as a criminal barrister in South Auckland until his appointment to the District Court bench, sitting in Whanganui, from 1996.

Judge Becroft is a former council member of the Auckland District Law Society and the New Zealand Law Society. He is a current editor of LexisNexis “Transport Law”, is the Patron of the New Zealand Speak Easy Association Inc., which assists those with various forms of speech impediment, and is the Chairperson of the Board of the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (NZ) Inc.

In 2009, Judge Becroft received an award from the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand as Communicator of the Year.  In 2010 Judge Becroft was the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland.

He is married with three children. Judge Becroft is a keen sports watcher, but he confesses, only an average (but enthusiastic) participant. He is strongly committed to a specialist approach to dealing with youth offenders and is an advocate for youth issues.

Judge Becroft's EA is Tracy Ford. Contact Tracy by email or on 04 470 9121 


The Strategy, Rights and Advice team

Donna Provoost, Director

Contact Donna by email or call 04 470 8713 

Donna is an economist with 20 years’ experience as a researcher, policy analyst and manager. Most of her professional work has focused on issues in the social sector including poverty, community development, and supporting everyone to thrive.

Since making New Zealand home in 2004, Donna has worked in the Ministries of Education, Justice and Science and Innovation. Donna joined the Office in March 2012. She leads work across a range of activities to support better outcomes for New Zealand children, including providing advice on children’s rights and child-centered policy, collecting and sharing the voice and views of children, making formal submissions and advocating for the best interests of children.

Donna lives in Wainuiomata with her partner and daughter. In her spare time she chairs Inspiring Communities, a national NGO focused on supporting community-led change.

Clair Trainor, Principal Advisor

Contact Clair by email or call 04 931 7191

Clair started her career as a lawyer and advocate for children and young people, working for a number of years at Youth Law Aotearoa, including in a leadership role, before moving to the Ministry of Justice to manage the Youth Justice team.  More recently she worked in the NGO sector as a policy advisor/researcher for Plunket. In all these roles she has had a strong child rights focus and delivered child-centred policy advice and submissions. 

Clair lives on Wellington’s south coast with her two fabulous boys. She enjoys visiting her family and being part of the local community. She joined the Office in August 2017.

Julia Amua Whaipooti (Ngāti Porou), Senior Advisor/Kaitohutohu

Contact Julia on email or call 04 470 9125

Julia is a passionate advocate for systemic change, particularly for tamariki and rangatahi Māori. She has been involved in the Community Law movement over the past 8 years as a volunteer, advocate, lawyer and National Māori Co-ordinator. She has a particular understanding of the many social justice failures that have seen far too many children and young people who enter care and protection systems, graduate to our youth justice system and then to the adult criminal justice system.

Julia believes in the power of young people’s experiences and voices to be visionary, hopeful and impatient for change. She is the proudest aunty to five and imagines an Aotearoa where they, future generations and all children have the equal chance to imagine and to reach their potential. She joined the Office in June 2017.

Dr Kathleen Logan, Senior Advisor

Contact Kathleen by email or call 04 495 7804

Kathleen is a researcher who came to the Office in December 2013. Kathleen’s focus is on the research and evidence base that supports the Commissioner’s role to advocate for children, and provide child-centred advice to agencies. Kathleen has experience from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology in government science, strategy and investment policy, and was manager of the policy and evaluation team at the Royal Society of New Zealand. Prior to this Kathleen was a research scientist in reproduction and genetics for over a dozen years.

In April 2015, Kathleen was appointed for a term of three years to the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology, representing the Children's Commissioner's role of advocating for the wellbeing of children.

Kelsey Brown, Senior Advisor

Contact Kelsey by email or call 04 470 9124 

Kelsey is originally from Dunedin, where she studied at the University of Otago and graduated with an LLB/BA. During her studies she volunteered at the Dunedin Community Law Centre and led a volunteer advocacy programme, supporting children and young people at a CYF Care and Protection residence. It was through her volunteer work that she started to see how she could build her career around what she’s most passionate about – ensuring Aotearoa’s children and young people have their voice heard, and are empowered to achieve their potential.

Kelsey worked at the Ministry of Social Development on child, youth, family and community policy, with a strong focus on youth justice, before joining the Office in January 2017. She leads the Mai World: Child and Youth Voices work. This is a national mechanism through which children and young people can exercise their right to have a say in matters that affect them, to raise awareness and increase youth engagement, and to bring children and young people’s voices to the attention of national decision makers.

Kelsey is currently enrolled in a Post Graduate Diploma in Child Centred Practice through the University of Otago’s Children’s Issues Centre. In Kelsey’s spare time she is always keen to explore new places, both here at home, and abroad.

Peter Foase, Youth and Community Engagement Specialist

Contact Peter on email

Peter is a qualified youth worker with 10 years’ experience. He has worked with youth across the country and is especially committed to empowering young people who are marginalised and shunned by society to dream their futures and transform their present. Peter is a Samoan born in NZ, raised in a humble home in Petone, the first European settlement in Aotearoa, and schooled in Te Ao Māori. He has journeyed the shifting and changing world our children and young people walk in.

Peter shares his culture and skills in a number of governance boards and local/national/international organisations to ensure children of all backgrounds are meaningfully engaged and can share their views and contribute to positive change.

Peter joined the Office in December 2016 and his work focuses on engaging with children and young people to hear their views as part of the Mai World initiative.

Sarah Morris, Senior Advisor on Children’s Rights

Contact Sarah on email or call 04 470 8717

Sarah has over 12 years’ experience working with leading international development agencies like UNICEF and Oxfam. Prior to joining the Office in July 2017, she was running her own consultancy business supporting non-government organisations and charitable trusts in the social and environmental justice space. She also had previously been the International Advocacy Manager at UNICEF New Zealand.

Sarah has specific responsibility for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sarah lives in Lower Hutt and spends most of her time with her two spectacular daughters, Nia (7) and Anushka (5).

Te Ringa Te Awhe (Ngā Rauru, Whanganui), Kaitohutohu

Contact Te Ringa on email or call 04 495 7802

Te Ringa joined the Office from the banks of the Whanganui River in January 2017. He trained as a school teacher but followed a pathway into political administration, working in central government and recently local government.

Te Ringa was the former Chair of Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority, a leading Health Care provider delivering a quality service contributing to the mana motuhake of whānau, hapū, iwi and other peoples. He also brings a range of diverse skills and networks to help support our work with Tamariki, Rangatahi Māori and Iwi. 

The Child Rights Advice Line

Maggie Wear, Child Rights Advisor

Contact Maggie by email or call the Child Rights Line on 0800 224 453  

Maggie has spent most of her career as a social worker in Wellington. She responds to calls and emails through the Child Rights Line from people concerned about the rights or wellbeing of an individual child or young person. Maggie advises and refers callers to assist with those cases. She has been with the Office since 2011.


The Monitoring and Investigations team

Liz Kinley, Director

Contact Liz by email or call 04 495 7801

Liz has thirty years of social work practice, management and leadership experience working with child and family centred social services in both the statutory and community sectors.  This includes many years working with Child, Youth and Family as a practitioner, supervisor and manager, seven years as the Chief Executive (strategic operations) for Jigsaw Family Services, and working for the Ministry of Social Development’s Investing in Services for Outcomes (ISO) team, leading the design of the ISO organisational self-assessment tool and NGO capability development framework. 

Awhina Buchanan, Senior Advisor, Children’s and Young People’s Engagement

Contact Awhina on email or call 04 495 7808

Awhina is an experienced youth development practitioner and has worked for local and central government in roles that aim to bring the voices of young people to the fore of decision making. Over the last ten years she has been involved in the development and implementation of research and policy relating to young people, the project management of youth initiatives, and has developed resources and models to support organisations to engage effectively with young people.

Awhina plays a leading role in the Office’s work on engaging and consulting with children and young people, supporting the monitoring team to ensure that the voices of children and young people in care are central to our monitoring and investigation activity. She leads the design and development of tools, consultation processes and resources that support the monitoring and advocacy teams to engage successfully with children and young people’s voices.

Brian Gardner, Senior Advisor

Contact Brian on email or call on 04 495 7803 

Brian has over twenty years’ experience in social work, management and leadership roles in government and community organisations. This includes therapeutic work with children, young people, their families and whānau in the child and adolescent mental health sector and the coordination and delivery of family violence prevention programmes within local communities.

For ten years he was the national manager for the National Network of Stopping Violence Services where he led a national network of community agencies and worked closely with government and NGO partners on shared initiatives to reduce family violence. For the year prior to joining the Office he was the Senior Advisor in the Ministry of Social Development’s Family Violence Unit.

Karen Palliser, Advisor 

Contact Karen on email or call 470 8712

Karen joined the Office in January 2016. She is a registered social worker with over ten years of experience working with children, young people and their whānau. Over this time she has worked as a senior practitioner for Oranga Tamariki in various roles, but primarily as a specialist child witness interviewer.  She is passionate about promoting the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.

Paula-Ann Churchward – Advisor Operations Support

Contact Paula-Ann on email or call 04 470 9126

Paula-Ann joined the Office in August 2017. Paula-Ann has worked in a variety of executive support and project roles in the last several years within the public sector, including Secondary Futures, NZ Customs, Ministry of Justice and Inland Revenue.

Paula-Ann is passionate about improving positive outcomes and the wellbeing of New Zealand's children and young people.

Dr Sarah Hayward, Principal Advisor

Contact Sarah on email or call 04 470 8718 

Dr Sarah Hayward is an experienced child and family psychologist. Prior to moving to New Zealand in 2005, Sarah worked as a researcher and therapist for the Parenting and Family Support Centre for over 10 years and is an accredited trainer for Triple P-Positive Parenting Program.

Sarah has many years’ experience in public sector strategy, policy and implementation. Prior to joining the Office, she worked as Manager of the Policy Development Team, Ministry of Justice and was responsible for leading the cross government priority, Addressing the Drivers of Crime. In another Ministry of Justice role, she worked in the Justice Sector Strategy Team and was responsible for helping to implement the Better Public Services (BPS) Reducing Crime and Reoffending Result Action Plan. Sarah has also worked as a Senior Project Manager in the Mental Health Group, Population Health Directorate, Ministry of Health, where she led policy and service development in the areas of primary mental health care and child and youth mental health.

Sarah completed her PhD in public health from the Queensland University of Technology in 2003. The topic of her PhD research was school-based mental health promotion. She has authored several articles on family risk factors, promoting family mental health, and the identification of children at risk of developing behavioural or emotional problems.

Sarah Scott, Senior Advisor

Contact Sarah on email or call 04 470 9127

Sarah originally trained as a social worker and has over twenty years’ experience as a practitioner, supervisor and advisor, specialising in the care and protection of children. For two years, she worked in the Office of the Chief Social Worker, reviewing cases where there had been deaths or other exceptional events involving children and young people.

In 2005 she moved to prevention, working with SKIP (Strategies for Kids Information for Parents) and the It’s Not OK family violence awareness campaign, supporting parents, whānau and communities to keep children safe. Sarah also worked at Historic Claims, hearing the accounts of people who had been abused in state care and assessing their claims.

Prior to joining the Office in July 2017, Sarah worked on user-centred design projects, co-designing services and supports for a range of people, including parents and whānau of children with disabilities.

Te Awa Puketapu, Senior Advisor

Contact Te Awa on email or call 470 9128

Te Awa was born in Lower Hutt, Wellington and has lived in Wainuiomata all her life. She has two school aged children and originally trained as a primary teacher.  She has been working in education for nearly 20 years.

Te Awa joined the Office in August 2017 and is currently on secondment from the Ministry of Education. Her work has varied from being a teacher, managing and establishing a Kohanga Reo, national programme co-ordinator for the Tū Tangata programme, overseas teaching for a short period of time, Review Officer for the Education Review Office, a Senior Advisor in the Parents, Families and Whānau team for the Ministry of Education and as a Senior Advisor for schools.

Te Awa is passionate about whānau being the driving force for their own decisions and supporting them to realise their own potential. Ensuring that whānau voice is at the fore regardless of the context is also crucially important. Alongside this, is recognising the important role of hapū and iwi in everything we do regarding Māori.

Tui Rani Dunlop (Ngāpuhi), Advisor

Contact Tui on email or call 04 470 8714

Tui joined the Office in July 2017 after living in South East Asia where she worked for the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, providing consular assistance to distressed New Zealand citizens.

Tui has previously worked for Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley as a Kaihāpai/Kaiako Hapori within the services to Māori team. During her time at Community Law she led and was involved in many projects which included a volunteer-run grievance advocacy programme at a CYF Care and Protection residence, coordinating the pilot of an iwi-led restorative justice program and supporting clients to navigate New Zealand’s legal system. Through her time at Community Law she started to see how she wanted to build her career around what she’s most passionate about – ensuring that whānau Māori voices are heard by those with the power to make decisions.

Tui grew up in Wellington and studied at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with a BA majoring in Education and Māori Resource Management.


The Corporate team

Patrick Labotsky, Business Manager

Contact Patrick by email or call 04 470 8711

Patrick has been working as a Business Manager in various Departments in the New Zealand public sector for the past 6 years. Prior to moving to New Zealand he was a Deputy Director in the Gauteng Health Services in South Africa managing the office of the Chief Executive. His role is to support the Office in all aspects of business, financial and budget management, strategic planning, reporting, human resources, project management as well as policy and process development.   

Carina Owen, Business Support Advisor

Contact Carina by email or call 04 470 8715

Carina provides support to the Office and is responsible for co-ordinating and administering Office wide systems, tools and processes to support best practice in a wide range of corporate areas and responsibilities - contributing to the overall performance of the Office. This includes finance, human resources and payroll, procurement, commission and contracts, reporting, project management and business continuity. 

Tracy Ford, Executive Assistant to the Children’s Commissioner

Contact Tracy via by email or on 04 470 9121

Tracy is an experienced Executive Assistant, Office Manager and Board Secretary who joined the Office in October 2016, having worked predominantly at Chief Executive level, most recently with six years within the NGO sector.

Her role is to support the Commissioner in all aspects of his diary, workflow planning, speaking engagements and public presentations. 



Catherine Jeffcoat, Principal Advisor Media and Communications

If you have a media enquiry, contact Catherine by email or call 027 696 5101. For information or advice about children’s rights, call 0800 224 453 or email advice@occ.org.nz.  

Catherine is an experienced public sector communications professional who has previously worked at the OECD, the Productivity Commission and the Treasury. Her role is to make sure the work of the Commissioner and the Office is well communicated to stakeholders, media and the wider community. This includes responsibility for media liaison, website management and publications.

Our history

The position of Children’s Commissioner was established in 1989 under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989, as a separate body from the executive and administrative arms of government.  Our independence was reinforced when we were given our own statute, the Children’s Commissioner Act 2003, and the status of an independent Crown entity

There have been seven commissioners since the position was established – Dr Ian Hassall, Laurie O’Reilly, Roger McClay, Dr Cindy Kiro, Dr John Angus, Dr Russell Wills and the current Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft.

You can read more about our history in the 2003 publication A Voice for Children - The Office of the Commissioner for Children in New Zealand 1984–2003