Gifted Learners

Tukuna kia rere

Ministry expert group for gifted education

Our group represents a broad range of the educational sector. We share our experience and expertise with the Ministry of Education as they strengthen support and provision for gifted learners at all levels of their educational journey.

Madelaine Armstrong-Willcocks photo.

Madelaine Armstrong-Willcocks

Head of Programmes, New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education Master of Specialist Teaching – Gifted (distinction); MEd (first class honours); BA; DipTeach

Madelaine is the Head of Programmes at the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, supporting the Centre's mission to reach all gifted kids in Aotearoa New Zealand so that they can get the specialist support they need to thrive and achieve. Madelaine is a specialist teacher of gifted learners and a NZ delegate on the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children.

Rosemary Cathcart photo.

Rosemary Cathcart

Director, REACH Education PhD; Dip Ed; Dip Teaching (Secondary)

Rosemary first became involved in the gifted field in the 1980s and is deeply committed to working to improve provision for gifted learners through leading innovation and change. Her early work led to a child-centred needs-based model and to the production of a practical teachers’ manual. In 1995 she founded New Zealand’s first specialist gifted centre, the George Parkyn Centre, and the following year set up its pioneering One Day School programme. In 2005 she moved to specialise in PLD, establishing Aotearoa Gifted NZ (formerly REACH Education) and NZ’s first fully online course in this field. This won the US Gifted Association’s Professional Development Network Award in 2017. She has continued to work for change through, for example, ongoing political advocacy, developing new teaching strategies, weaving Maori concepts into course work, organising conferences, bringing international leaders to New Zealand, etc. She is a member of Gifted Aotearoa and, by invitation, of the internationally respected Columbus Group.

Andrea Delaune photo.

Andrea (Andi) Delaune

Senior Teacher, Ilam Early Learning Centre PhD (currently enrolled); MEd (first class honours); Grad Dip Teaching and Learning; BA

Andi has been teaching in early childhood centres in varying roles since 2001, including Centre Manager and Team Leader roles. After developing a passion for advocating for the needs of gifted children in the early years, Andi undertook a Master of Education thesis which focused upon perceptions of giftedness held by teachers of infants and toddlers. The findings of this study demonstrated numerous areas of improvement for early years gifted education and further inspired Andi to develop her PhD thesis on improving pedagogical practice for all children, including gifted children. Andi has extensive public speaking experience, including guest lecturing at the University of Canterbury. Andi has also tutored and marked numerous papers. As a published author in various educational journals, Andi actively seeks to draw from her experience as a teacher and researcher to blend theory and practice in order to improve philosophical grounding for pedagogical practice in early childhood education.

Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu photo.

Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu

Academic Manager, Pasifika Education Centre/Creative Arts Lecturer, Manukau Institute of Technology. PhD in Education (currently enrolled), Masters of Professional Studies in Education, PGDipEd, GradDipTESSOL, GradDipTchg (Sec), BA (Hons), BMus.

Aiono Manu was first involved in Gifted Education through her drafting of Pacific Island cultural identifiers for giftedness as a teacher at Rutherford College in West Auckland in 2009. Her work was presented at the Australasian Association for the Education of Gifted and Talented conference in 2010, which was then published as part of the indigenous strand of conference papers. Aiono Manu has used these Pacific Island cultural identifiers as the basis of her Master's research which focused on connecting gifted Pacific Island secondary students with their musical talent, which was published in SET in 2015 as "Pasifika Transformers - more than meets the eye". She is currently completing her PhD in Education focusing on the voices and perceptions of success of Pacific Island secondary school students in NCEA. Aiono Manu currently works as the Academic Manager at the Pasifika Education Centre which is in the adult community education, tasked with managing Pacific language tutors to deliver Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island Māori, Fijian, Tokelauan, Niuean and Rotuman classes across Auckland. With her Performing Arts background, she is also a Creative Arts lecturer, focusing on Voice, Choir, Pacific Dance and Music Theatre at Manukau Institute of Technology. Aiono Manu has presented extensively on gifted Pacific students at various conferences over the years and has written articles and thought leadership posts about gifted Pacific education. Her work is also used by the Ministry of Education to assist teachers in identifying gifted Pacific learners.

Ingrid Frengley-Vaipuna photo.

Ingrid Frengley-Vaipuna

Facilitator for the Institute of Professional Learning, University of Waikato Cert in Mauri Ora; MEd – Gifted (first class honours); BEd, Post Grad Dip Secondary Teaching; BA

Ingrid is an experienced teacher, leader and facilitator who specialises in gifted education and curriculum design/development at primary and secondary levels. Her foray into gifted education began in 2007 with the completion of a Masters thesis focused on gifted Tongan students. Since then she has held various positions, in and out of schools, focused on improving education for gifted learners. She has worked for several providers of PLD for primary and secondary teachers in schools and regional networks, edited an e-zine for giftEDnz, contributed to the recent Gifted Aotearoa gifted education environmental scan, is a member of the team which designed and input content into the new look TKI gifted online MOE website and currently maintains and updates it. She works fulltime at the Institute of Professional Learning/Te Whai Toi Tangata, University of Waikato.

Tracy Riley photo.

Dr Tracy Riley

Associate Professor and Dean, Research, Massey University PhD; MEd; BSC (honours)

Tracy has led gifted education teaching and research at Massey University since 1996, having developed the first university-based qualifications in New Zealand and, most recently, the Specialist Teaching qualifications endorsed in gifted. She is a leading New Zealand researcher in the field, having secured numerous Ministry contracts and supervised the majority of postgraduate research students. She is on the editorial boards of APEX: The New Zealand Journal of Gifted Education, Gifted and Talented International, and the Australian Journal of Gifted Education. Tracy is the Secretary for the World Council of Gifted and Talented Children, a Director of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), and Acting Treasurer of giftEDnz: The Professional Association for Gifted Education. Tracy is also the recipient of the 2017 Te Manu Kotoku award for her services to gifted education, and is a 2007 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence winner.

Emma Scobie-Jennings photo.

Emma Scobie-Jennings

TiC Digital Technologies/Gifted and Talented Education Co-ordinator, Bream Bay College MEd – Gifted; Graduate Dip in Gifted and Talented Education; BEd

Emma’s interest in gifted education began while teaching the ‘top stream’ Year 7 and 8 class at Bream Bay College. On finding there was a lack of information and research to support best practice she pursued further education in this area by completing a Postgraduate Diploma and then Masters specialising in Gifted and Talented Education, all the while translating the theory into practice for her learners. In 2015-2016 she collaborated with another school and University researchers on a Teacher-Led Innovation Fund project aimed at adapting the Real Engagement in Active Problem Solving (REAPS) framework to increase engagement and achievement for Māori and Pasifika boys. Emma has also worked for Cognition Education, providing PLD support to teachers in Northland on Gifted and Talented Education. This year Emma has taken on a new challenge in leading the implementation of the new Digital Technologies curriculum in her school.

Brooke Trenwith photo.

Brooke Trenwith

President of New Zealand Association for Gifted Children MEd (currently enrolled); Post Grad Dip in Special Education (Gifted and Talented with Distinction); Cert Effective Practice in Gifted and Talented Education (with Distinction); Post Grad Dip in Education (Secondary); BA

Brooke is President of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, a New Zealand Representative on the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and a MOE Accredited consultant. She has taught early childhood through to university level, been a GaTE Coordinator and was assistant director of an English Language School in Taiwan. Brooke was project leader of the Te Toi Tupu contract, helping schools develop robust, transparent and cohesive approaches to gifted education. Brooke’s specialisations include giftedness, inclusive education, relationship-based learning/cultural responsiveness, coaching/change management, thinking skills, digital fluency, innovative learning and collaborative practice. In 2018, Brooke is on the Reference Group for the Ministerial Review of Curriculum, Progress and Achievement (Year 1-10). Brooke also operates her own business Performance to Potential.

Deb Walker photo.

Deb Walker

Gifted Education Consultant; Massey University, PhD student, MEd - Gifted (honours); PG Dip Digital and Collaborative Learning- Applied Practice, GDip NFP Business Management; BEd; GCert Information Technology in Education, DipEd

Deb began working in gifted education in 2002 and has held various teaching, management and leadership roles over the years. She is currently the Director of GEMS Aotearoa consultancy and the Gifted Education Facilitator for the Massey University Specialist Teacher post-graduate Course. Deb is passionate about leading positive change in gifted education and, as a result of this, was the CEO of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education from 2010-2021 involved in leadership, management and advocacy. Through her work with the Centre she was heavily involved in curriculum development, identification processes and the development and growth of services. She has served on multiple committees and advisories including leading Gifted Aotearoa and Gifted NEX, Networks of Expertise, frequently delivers PLD to educators and presents at conferences nationally and internationally. Deb's ongoing passion is ensuring educators in Aotearoa have sufficient information and tools to best meet the learning and well-being needs of their gifted learners.

Vanessa White photo.

Vanessa White

Specialist Educator Gifted and Talented Masters in Specialist Education – Gifted (distinction); Certificate of Effective Practice in Gifted and Talented Education (distinction); BSocSci

Initiated into the world of giftedness as a parent, Vanessa has, over the past fifteen years held a wide range of roles. Previously an elected Board member of giftEDnz, the national professional association for gifted and talented education, Vanessa demonstrates a commitment to the professionalism of the field. Currently, she is a senior tutor for gifted and talented education at Massey University, and blogger for the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education. Vanessa has a strong interest in supporting educators through professional learning and development, crafting practical resources, storying information and support in the form of blogs, and advocating for gifted learners, particularly those who are struggling to fit within the current schooling system (including those formally excluded, those who have left to home-school or learn via correspondence out of need, and those who are underachieving in the classroom); the latter highlighting the need to include nuanced understandings and practices pertaining to gifted learners in the development of trauma-sensitive educational practices.

Elizabeth Wilson photo.

Elizabeth Wilson

Director of Gifted and Talented, Shirley Boys’ High School Master of Specialist Teaching – Gifted; Grad Dip Teaching (Secondary); BA (honours); Cert English Language Teaching to Adults

Elizabeth Wilson has worked with Gifted ākonga for over 10 years. She completed her Master of Specialist Teaching (Gifted) in 2017 and was awarded a Boma NZ Education Fellowship in 2020, focusing on self-advocacy for neurodiverse learners.

Elizabeth works to empower kaiako to be specialists within their classrooms and has been a Gifted Aotearoa/ GiftedNEX facilitator, consultant for the New Zealand Centre of Gifted Education (NZCGE), elected Board member of GiftEDnz in and is currently a GEMS Aotearoa mentor.

In 2023, she was invited to be a member of the Inclusive Practices Group working with the Ministry so the Common Practice Model considers the learning needs of all ākonga. Currently, she is the Director of Gifted & Talented / Kairuruku Tautoko Akoranga (LSC) at Shirley Boys’ High School - Ngā Tama o Ōruapaeroa in Ōtautahi Christchuch.