Our board

Bernardine Vester (Chair)

Bernardine Vester (Chair)

Bernardine was the founding CEO of City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET). She started her career as a secondary teacher and assistant principal in Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Bernardine also chairs the Te Tuhi Contemporary Art Trust, and is an Expert Partner for Kahui Ako (Communities of Learning).

Fiona McTavish

Fiona McTavish

Fiona is the CEO of Bay of Plenty Regional Council. She first encountered the Teach First NZ Programme while Manager of Education Workforce at the Ministry of Education. She lives in Tauranga with her husband, a secondary school teacher, and children, who whakapapa to Tainui and Te Arawa

Miles Shepheard

Miles Shepheard

Miles is a member of the Senior Leadership team at the Taikura Trust. He began his career as a Primary and Secondary school teacher and was a lecturer in the Auckland Secondary Teachers College. Miles also has a background in management consulting and business management.

Shaun Sutton

Shaun Sutton

Shaun is a Policy Advisor for Auckland Council. He was the founding CEO of Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu. While Shaun is originally from Auckland, he completed the Teach First Programme in the UK, following a period working as a Business Analyst in London.

Leigh Auton

Leigh Auton

Leigh is former CEO of Manukau City Council, and interim CEO of Tauranga City Council. He was a member of the Local Government Commission, and has held a portfolio of directorships on behalf of Ngapuhi. He has worked with a number of NGOs, and is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.

Tony Caughey

Tony Caughey

Appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2014 for services to education and business, Tony has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and is an experienced CEO and company director. Tony is a past chair of the Young Enterprise Trust and current chair of the Play it Strange Trust.

How we were founded

Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ was founded in 2011.

The programme was the result of collaboration among a number of individuals and groups from across the political spectrum and from all sectors of society.

The establishment was led by Shaun Sutton, founding CEO, and Deborah George, founding Board chair, and both remain actively involved today.


The flagship programme has been supported by the Ministry of Education throughout this time, and the University of Auckland was the founding tertiary partner, delivering the academic element of the programme until 2018.


The programme was inspired by the Teach First programme that has operated in England and Wales since 2003, and created for the Aotearoa New Zealand context.


The organisation has significant gratitude for the University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work, and in particular Dr Ngaire Hoben, Director of Secondary Initial Teacher Education, and Professor Graeme Aitken, Dean of Education until 2018, for their instrumental work in developing and delivering the academic programme from 2012 to 2018.

How we were founded

Take our eligibility quiz

Are you eligible to join our flagship programme? Our quiz will help you understand whether you meet our eligibility criteria as well as what subjects you may be able to teach.

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Request an info pack

If you would like to find out more about our programme, how it works and who we are looking for, we have created an information pack just for you!

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