Susan Warren, Chief Executive

Susan has been COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga’s Chief Executive since 2011. Previously she was the Manager, Centre for Family Learning at COMET. She has a Masters in Education with first class honours, focusing on cognition and instruction. 

Susan has previously worked for the Ministry of Education, working with school leaders, boards and teachers in Manukau to help them raise student achievement in literacy and numeracy. She also designed and led the Pasifika Schooling Improvement project, a national project to improve the effectiveness of interventions for Pasifika students. Susan has written a variety of educational resources for World Vision New Zealand including books, DVDs, photo packs and interactive internet sites to help NZ children learn more about the developing world. Susan has always believed in the power of learning to change lives. 

Susan Warren Chief Executive
Linda Hu

Linda Hu, Director of Finance

Linda has been responsible for COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga’s finance department since 2008. She is dedicated to improving the efficiency of financial management system as well as IT system and business procedures. 

Linda is a Chartered Accountant. She has bachelor’s degrees in Business and Mathematics, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics. She has huge interest in data science.

Before coming to New Zealand with her family in 2002, Linda was a Statistician and IT Manager in China.

Shaheeda Zaitoon, Office Administrator

Shaheeda joined Comet Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga in 2017 as an administrator. She has a Diploma in Secretarial/Administration.

In Fiji she was a Personal Assistant for a Trade Union movement. 

Shaheeda Zaitoon

Jenny Erhard, Financial Accountant

Jenny has been involved in non-for-profit organisations for over 15 years. She joins COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga in believing that education makes positive impacts to generations and the programs provide equitable opportunities to the communities most needed.

Before finding her interest in the non-for-profit sector,  she has worked in various financial roles for Gaming trust, Churches, Preschool and Community sports groups and other corporate companies.

Jenny has bachelor’s degrees in both Business and IT.  She is an NZPPA certified Payroll Specialist and she is also in her final year of completing the CPA Australia Program.

Her passion is “to use business knowledge and experience to work on projects that deliver social good”.

Dr Rajshree Krishnan, Senior Data Analyst 

Raj has worked with COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga since 2014, providing data support for various projects and leading the production of our annual data snapshots.  She enjoys “making numbers talk” and believes that data should be presented in a manner that can be understood by everyone. 

Raj is originally from Malaysia. She has a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Auckland, a BSc (Hons) and a Masters with Distinction in Psychology from the University of Otago. 

Rajshree Krishnan

Jonathan Longstaff, Project Support 

Jonathan provides administrative and logistical support to Te Hononga Akoranga COMET’s STEM team as well as providing general administration and comms services to the wider team. Originally from the USA, he has a BA (cum laude) in History and a Diploma in Computer Graphic Design. Prior to joining in 2018, Jonathan juggled freelance design work and fulltime parenting for nearly a decade. He is passionate about education and has previously worked in museums, both in the USA and NZ, including Auckland Museum.

Jonathan Longstaff
Ying Yang

Ying Yang, STEM Manager

Ying leads the STEM team’s campaign to increase ākonga awareness and engagement in science, technology, engineering and maths. She manages the Curious Minds south Auckland PSP and STEM Alliance Aotearoa.

Before joining Te Hononga Akoranga – COMET, Ying was an engineer and project manager for water infrastructure projects in New Zealand and the Pacific. Through her work providing clean water and sanitation and mitigating flood risks for vulnerable communities, Ying understands the power of science and technology for creating positive change. She is passionate about spreading that knowledge and empowering all learners to see themselves as scientists, innovators, engineers and problem solvers.

Will Flavell Māori Education Manager

Dr Will Flavell, Education Māori Manager

Tēnā koutou katoa 

Ko Ngātokimatawhaorua me Tainui ngā waka. Ko Manaia me Rangitoto ngā maunga. Ko Whangārei Terenga Paraoa me Waipa ngā puna wai. Ko Ngā Puhi me Ngāti Maniapoto ngā iwi. Ko Ngāti Kahu o Torongare me Ngāti Pare ngā hapū. Ko Ngararatunua me Te Ahoroa ngā marae. Ko Will Flavell toku ingoa.

Tiheiwa Mauriora. 

Will grew up in Whangārei, attended Bream Bay College and is passionate about realising the potential of our young people. He is an experienced secondary school teacher of te reo Māori and Japanese. Will recently completed his PhD studies at Otago University on the learning experiences of non-Māori secondary school students learning te reo Māori. Will leads the Education Māori portfolio and strongly supports the flourishing of te reo Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau. Will is enthusiastic about ensuring that there is support for educational and employment opportunities for our rangatahi. Furthermore, his role is to challenge educational thinking and practice to do right by Māori learners.

Jilly Tyler, Talking Matters Interim Director

Jilly is driven to elevate great outcomes for children and their families. She has the privilege of guiding the strategy to achieve the Talking Matters mission, which is, to get everyone talking more to babies, toddlers and young children. She has extensive experience in early childhood education from, teaching, professional development and educational management.  Jilly has held senior roles in central government and includes leading early childhood policy implementation. Most recently Jilly has worked in community facing projects that combine data and measurement to support organisations to achieve impact. 

Jilly Tyler
Madeleine Sheahan

Madeleine Sheahan, Talking Matters Operations Director

Madeleine became Operations Manager for Talking Matters in January 2019. This represented a completely new direction after a long career in film and TV where Madeleine’s key role was facilitating documentaries with cultural value and social impact. That work deepened a belief in the power of communication skills as a component of personal and societal wellbeing. She was attracted to Talking Matters by the unique, targeted message of the campaign and the power of the neurological science underpinning it. As the campaign expands from its initial scoping and research phases, Madeleine is managing the deployment of a small team which supports whānau, services and educators in getting everyone to talk more to babies and young children under three to ensure they reach their potential.

Tampy Bernard, Talking Matters Community Activator

Tampy joined COMET Auckland – Te Hononga Akoranga in 2020 as a Community Activator for the Talking Matters team. Father of four and first time stay at home dad with son Hawaiki, Tampy took part in the Talking Matters to Tāmaki movement in 2019. After seeing first hand the successful results of the programme, Tampy became a whānau to whānau coach for Talking Matters, which quickly accelerated his passion to help educate others of the importance of quality communication with children from 0 – 3yrs. Tampy is a fluent speaker of Gagana Sāmoa and is driven to see children have equal education opportunities in Aotearoa. Tampy brings with him 10 years experience advocating for the rights of Pacific and Māori in the workplace as a frontline senior Union Delegate.

Tampy Bernard Talking Matters Community Activator
Hana Tuwhare Talking Matters Community Activator

Hana Tuwhare, Talking Matters Community Activator

Tēnā tātou katoa… Ko Putahi tōku maunga, Ko Wairoro tōku awa, Ko Ngatokimatawhaorua tōku waka, Ko Kohewhata tōku marae, Ko Te Uri o Hua, Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Tautahi, Te Popoto ōku hapū. He uri nō Ngāpuhi kowhao rau… Tēnei te mihi maioha ki te hāpori nō ngā hau e whā.

Hana joined the COMET Auckland – Te Hononga Akoranga team in January 2020 as a Community Activator for Talking Matters. Hana trained as a Speech & Language Therapist and explored whanaungatanga in her honours research. As a second language learner and speaker of te reo Māori, she is passionate about combining her skills to support the revitalisation of te reo from the beginning of life by creating rich language environments for pēpi and tamariki. She believes te reo Māori me ngā tikanga me ngā matauranga Māori are key in creating meaningful community led action that affirms the positive identity of whānau, hapū and iwi.

Sneh Sm

Sneh Patel, Project Manager – WeSTEM

Sneh is the project manager for WeSTEM, an innovative new programme for engaging west Auckland ākonga in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths). Before joining Te Hononga Akoranga – COMET, she completed her PhD in chemistry at the University of Auckland. 

The time Sneh spent in the undergraduate teaching labs and working with local schools inspired her interest in STEM engagement and outreach. Sneh’s passion for science from a young age drove her towards a career in the field and she wants to show rangatahi that this is a viable choice for them, too. Science is for everybody, and anything is achievable with the right mindset.