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, aged 20, 19 and 15. 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 can be contacted on 04 471 1410

 

The Strategy, Rights and Advice team

Donna Provoost, Manager - Strategy, Rights and Advice

Donna is an economist with over fifteen years of experience as a researcher, policy analyst and manager. She advises on a range of issues to improve child wellbeing, including leading strategic work for the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on child poverty and the action plan on the next steps. Donna works closely with stakeholders including government, NGOs, academics and businesses.

You can contact Donna by email or call 04 470 8713

Holly Walker, Principal Advisor - Strategy, Rights and Advice

Holly joined the Office in November 2014. She has a diverse background including editor of a student magazine, policy analyst, press secretary, political advisor and Member of Parliament. In 2007 she took up a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford, where she completed a Masters thesis on inequality and social policy. Ensuring that every child gets the best possible start in life has been a recurring theme in Holly’s professional life. As Principal Advisor in the Strategy, Rights and Advice team, Holly’s role is to help raise awareness of children’s rights and advocate for more child-friendly policies at all levels of government. Outside of work hours she is busy volunteering in her community and ensuring her own daughter gets the best possible start in life too.

You can contact Holly by email or call 04 470 8716

Dr Kathleen Logan, Senior Advisor - Strategy, Rights and Advice

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.

You can contact Kathleen by email or call 04 495 7804

Emma Hope, Senior Advisor - Strategy, Rights and Advice

Emma is the Senior Advisor (Child and Youth Voice) and runs our child and youth voices project.  Emma has substantial experience engaging with children and young people in local government.

You can contact Emma by email or call 04 470 8717

The Monitoring team

Liz Kinley, Manager Monitoring and Investigations

Liz has thirty years 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.

You can contact Liz by email or call 04 495 7801

Dr Sarah Hayward, Principal Advisor Monitoring and Investigations

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 her work at OCC, 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.

You can contact Sarah by email or call 04 470 8718

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

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 Awhina has been involved in the development and implementation of research and policy pertaining to young people, the project management of youth initiatives, and has developed resources and models to support organisations to engage effectively with young people.  She leads the Office’s work on engaging and consulting with children and young people. Her role within the Office’s monitoring team is to support the wider team so they can 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.

You can contact Awhina by email or call 04 495 7808

Brian Gardner, Senior Advisor Monitoring and Investigations 

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 lead 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.

You can contact Brian by email or call on 04 495 7803

The Child Rights Line

Maggie Wear, Child Rights Advisor

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

You can contact Maggie by email or call the Child Rights Line on 0800 224 453 

The Corporate team

Patrick Labotsky, Business Manager

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.  

You can contact Patrick by email or call 04 470 8711

Carina Owen, Business Support Advisor

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.

You can contact Carina by email or call 04 470 8715

Communications

Anna Santos, Principal Advisor Media and Communications

Anna has worked in public sector communications roles for over ten years in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Prior to the move to communications she was a producer for local television and radio in her hometown of Christchurch. Anna has been with the Office since 2009, taking breaks to become a mum to her two children. 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.

You can contact Anna by email or call 04 495 7805


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