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 an editor of LexisNexis “Transport Law”, the Patron of the New Zealand Speak Easy Association Inc., which assists those with various forms of speech impediment, Chair of the Board of the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (NZ) Inc, and Chair of the Wellington College Football Club.

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. Judge Becroft was the 2018 winner of the Public Service Category at the Wellingtonian of the Year awards for helping vulnerable young people as Children's Commissioner.

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  

Tracy Ford, Senior Executive Assistant to the Children’s Commissioner

Contact Tracy via by email or on 04 470 9121

Tracy is a highly experienced Senior Executive Assistant, with exceptional organisational, communication and interpersonal skills. Her background is in office management, business planning and continuity, risk management, board secretarial and project oversight. Tracy provides executive level management and administrative support with a solutions orientation, focussing on supporting the Commissioner in all aspects of his workflow planning and prioritisation, diary management, speaking engagements coordination and public presentations. As a team leader, Tracy enjoys mentoring young administrators to progress their own professional journey. She joined the Office in October 2016, having worked predominantly with Chief Executives for most of her career, including within the NGO sector with organisations committed to the care and advocacy of children.

Tracy’s interests naturally include lots of family time with her partner and their blended family of four teenagers, whether camping, mountain biking, watching motorsport or playing board games. She loves to bake, watch rugby and fit in day trips on the Harley.

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.

Te Arai McAdam, Executive Assistant

Contact Te Arai by email

Te Arai hails from Te Pae o Hauraki, and Ngati Whātua Ōrakei. Te Arai is an extraordinary individual whose commitment and loyalty are considered her biggest assets. Te Arai brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge from the various support roles in her career and is an integral part of this office.

Te Arai’s aspiration in life is that her son remains at the centre of everything she does, supporting him to be best person he can be.

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

Julia is a staunch advocate for systemic change. She has been involved in the Community Law movement over the past 8 years as a volunteer, advocate, lawyer and National Māori Co-ordinator and is on the board for Justspeak. Julia 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. In 2018 was appointed by to Te Uepū - Independent Criminal Justice Advisory group. Julia believes rangatahi are experts of their own experiences and need to be understood in the context of their whānau and environment they live in.

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 more than 12 years.

Kathleen was appointed by the Minister of Health to Chair the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology in August 2018. This is in her role as Children's Commissioner's representative to promote children's wellbeing and rights in the regulation of fertility treatment in New Zealand. Kathleen studied embryo implantation to improve fertility treatments for her PhD from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Kelsey Brown, Principal 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 children and young people of Aotearoa 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 has completed post graduate study through the Children’s Issues Centre at the University of Otago, and is currently working on her LLM in children’s rights through the University of Otago Law Faculty. In Kelsey’s spare time she is always keen to explore new places, both here at home, and abroad.

Peter Foaese, 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, Principal Advisor on Children’s Rights

Sarah Morris, Principal Advisor - Children’s Rights

Contact Sarah on email

Sarah has specific responsibility for supporting the Commissioner to monitor and advance the Government’s implementation of the Untied Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Born in Tamaki Makaurau, Sarah now lives in Te Awakairangi and is the proud mum of two spectacular daughters. Sarah trained as a journalist before moving abroad and establishing a career in international development working for agencies like UNICEF and Oxfam to end poverty and champion human rights. Prior to joining the Office in July 2017, she was running her own consultancy business supporting non-government organisations and charitable trusts working for social and environmental justice.

Dr Katie Bruce, Manager Child-Centred Advice

Contact Katie by email or call 04 931 7198

Katie Bruce joined the OCC in 2019 from the community sector where she was CE of Volunteering New Zealand and, before that, Director of youth justice movement JustSpeak. She has also previously worked in youth policy at MSD.

Katie is from the UK, where she was involved in youth advocacy and programme design from a young age. Katie has a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and has worked on research projects on topics such as the community sector during recession, family rituals and the criminalisation of young people.

Erin Gough, Senior Advisor

Contact Erin by email  

Born in South Africa, Erin spent her high school and university years in Christchurch before moving to Wellington in 2015. Erin has worked in legal, advocacy, and policy roles at Community Law Canterbury, the Human Rights Commission, and most recently, the Ministry of Education. Disabled since birth, Erin is a strong advocate for the rights of disabled people, including children and young people.

Erin joined the Office in September 2019 as part of the Child Centred Advice team.

India Craddock, Advisor

Contact India by email

India is a Wellingtonian who studied criminology, sociology and anthropology. Since graduating, India worked in the public sector before coming to the Office. India is passionate about social change and her role is to advocate for children and young people across a range of issues.

Ruby Sands, Advisor

Contact Ruby by email

Ruby was born in Tāmaki Makaurau before moving to Poneke to study Political Science and international Relations at Victoria University of Wellington. She worked as a Policy Advisor at Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development) before coming to the OCC to join the Mai World Team.

During her studies Ruby was a youth ambassador with UNICEF New Zealand and she became passionate about ensuring that all children in New Zealand have the opportunity to have their voices heard.

She has also volunteered with Girl Guiding New Zealand since 2013 and currently serves on their board.

Noel Rawiri Woods, Kairaranga

Contact Noel by email or call 04 931 7190

He uri tenei manu mai ngā iwi o Ngāti Porou, Te Atiawa me Ngāruahinerangi.

Noel was born and raised at Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt. His work has varied from being a teacher, youth worker, musician, event manager, and currently a part-time radio host at the local Wellington iwi station, Atiawa Toa FM. Other interests include sports and the revitalisation/normalisation of te reo Māori. He is currently a director of T.A Productions, a company created to produce reo Māori content.

His community involvement ranges from being a trustee of Waiwhetu Marae, member of the Care & Protection Epuni Community Liaison Committee, and an elected member of the Hutt City Council Arts & Cultural Sub Committee.

Noel is passionate about our young people and believes working closely with whānau, hapū, iwi and communities is crucial in supporting them to realise their own potential. Alongside this, is recognising the important role of whānau in decision making and incorporating values of te ao Māori in everything we do regarding mokopuna Māori and all children in Aotearoa.

Mauri Ora!

Jenny Skinner, Senior Advisor

Contact Jenny by email

Jenny joins the office on secondment from the Ministry for Women. Jenny is a parent of two young children where she has been an active member of her school community.

Jenny has held Senior Advisor, and Senior Policy roles in child health and mental health promotion at the Ministry of Health. She brings to the team strong analytical skills and experience in policy and government.

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 Development, Monitoring and Investigations team

The team monitors services under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

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 (now Oranga Tamariki) as a social worker, supervisor, site manager and senior advisor to the Chief Social Worker; seven years as the Chief Executive for Jigsaw Family Services, a national child-centred family violence prevention NGO; several years working for the Ministry of Social Development’s Investing in Services for Outcomes (ISO) team, leading the design of the ISO NGO organisational self-assessment tool and capability development framework; and most recently five years leading the Children’s Commissioner’s Development, Monitoring and Investigations Team.

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, Principal Advisor

Contact Te Awa on email or call 04 470 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 coordinator 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.

Lucy Johnston - Senior Advisor 

Contact Lucy by email

Lucy is a proud South Islander through and through, only making the move to the Pōneke to work for the Commissioner. Lucy is a University of Otago graduate and registered social worker and has held social work roles in both government and non-government organisations. During her University days she worked for several years in a Hall of Residence, volunteered with Youthline Otago and served on their Governance Board. Lucy’s frustration with inequality and systemic issues impacting whānau are what prompted her to make the shift to OCC and continue to motivate her every day.

George Fa’alogo, Senior Advisor

Contact George by email

George started at OCC in November 2020 from Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand where he was Humanitarian Coordinator. Prior to that, George spent nearly 35 years in the New Zealand Police where he held a number of roles in the operational, training and strategic environment as a senior investigator, manager and practitioner. George served in the Kapiti Mana, Hutt Valley, Horowhenua communities and also held roles at the Royal New Zealand Police College and Police National Headquarters. As a former Detective Inspector, George counts his time as the Youth Services & Community Coordinator in Waitangirua as one of the highlights of his career. George lives in Porirua with his wife of over 30 years. They have two adult sons together. He enjoys paddling waka ama and stand up paddle boards, drinking coffee and playing his guitar.

Laura Gingell, Senior Advisor

Contact Laura by email

Laura grew up on the Kāpiti Coast and has lived in Wellington since 2009.
Laura joined the Office of Children’s Commissioner in 2019 after working as a Registered Social Worker in a youth NGO. Prior to this she worked in various public sector roles while studying social policy and completing a Master of Social Work (Applied) with a focus on group work with youth. She is passionate about youth and community development and loves engaging with young people and seeing them realise their own potential.

Mike Pewhairangi, Senior Advisor

Contact Mike by email

He uri ahau o Ngāti Porou
Mike was born and raised in Petone and is currently living in Waiwhetu. Mike is married and has four children and a dog. Mike has been involved in youth development and youth work since ages ago. Mike joined the Office in January 2021. His work has varied from working in an NGO, education and now the public sector.

Mike is passionate about contributing to change and supporting young people and their whānau to be informed, included, and independent.


Kirsty Tait, Senior Advisor

Contact Kirsty by email

Kirsty grew up in China and Japan, but Wellington is her home. She has two children, a husband and a cat named Lynda.

Kirsty joined the office in January 2019. She is a registered and practicing Educational Psychologist. Before coming to the office she worked with teams supporting children and young people in school settings through the Ministry of Education Learning Support.

Kirsty likes engaging with children and young people to find out what’s important to them in order to create upward spirals of systemic change.

The Corporate team

Patrick Labotsky, Corporate Services Manager

Contact Patrick by email or call 04 470 8711

Born and raised in Pretoria South Africa, Patrick came to New Zealand in 2006. 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 Operating Officer and Chief Executive. He started working in the Ministry of Health in the Disability Services Directorate, then moved to the Information Directorate and then the newly established National Health Board. He then held Business Manager roles in the Department of Building & Housing and MBIE, before moving into this role in 2013. His role is to support the Office in all aspects of business, financial and budget management, strategic planning, reporting, human resources, accountability, IT, facilities, 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 coordinating 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. 

Sarah King, Business Support Advisor

Contact Sarah by email

Sarah provides support to the Office and is responsible for coordinating and administering all human resourcing functions and payroll. Setting up best practice in tools and processes that make all recruitment and other HR processes and systems work efficiently.

Sarah has a range of experience within the public sector and comes with a passion to make change easy and simple for those around.

Communications

Leah Haines, Manager, Media and Communications

Contact Leah by email or call 027 696 5101.

Leah has worked in media, communications and policy for more than 20 years and has specialised in children’s issues in all her roles. She grew up in Auckland and has four children ranging from primary school age to adult.

Leah joined the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in September 2020 after spending a year studying for a Masters of Public policy during which she focused on the wellbeing of mothers and children in material hardship. Before returning to study, Leah worked for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as a senior press secretary and has led communications and media teams for the New Zealand Education Institute and the Green Party of Aotearoa. She is also an award-winning journalist and social policy advisor. Leah is passionate about using evidence-based solutions to improve the lives of New Zealand’s children.

Arieta Taito, Communications Advisor (Specialist in Digital Media)

Contact Arieta by email or call 029 414 5869

Arieta is a New Zealand-born Samoan/Tokelauan living in Wellington where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies, Film and Pacific Studies. Her work since then has involved children and youth in all instances, including working as a Pasifika Ambassador at Victoria University of Wellington and volunteering for Kids Camps New Zealand - a charity that runs a 5-day camp for at-risk children.

Arieta joined the team as an intern in August 2018, and has been focusing on communications, design and social media for the Office. Outside of work, Arieta's interests include family, digital art and gaming. 


Commissioner’s top priorities

Andrew 320

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is focused on ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand is a place where all children can thrive. The current Children's Commissioner is Judge Andrew Becroft. Before taking up the position on 1 July 2016 he was New Zealand's Principal Youth Court Judge.

Children’s Commissioner’s top priorities

Our history