Meet The Team

Our Founder

Trevor Grice, MNZM, CNZM

Trevor is the Founder Director of Life Education NZ and has been in the Education Business for the past 30 years. He is the co-author of the best-selling book - The Great Brain Robbery. He assists throughout the public and private sector and has received several accolades for his work.

Our Patron

David Wale, CBE

David Wale has been involved with Life Education NZ from the very beginning. He was the chairperson of Life Education for a number of years before becoming the trusts' patron. David has also held a number of positions, including Chair of the Stock Exchange and managed the National Provident fund. He is currently the chair of Jarden Morgan.  He lives with his wife, Annette, and has three daughters.

Board of Trustees

Chair: Rob Simcic

Rob has been involved in Rural & Commercial banking for the last 15 years, working in various regions and roles across NZ from Northland to top of the South. Rob is an industry specialist for the ANZ bank. He lives on a small vineyard just out of Blenheim with his wife Niki and four school aged children. Rob holds a degree in Applied Science from Massey University.


Deputy Chair: John Spring

John was born in Whakatane, and has been married to Philippa for 29 years and has 3 children. He is managing director of the Beacon Media group which includes newspaper and printing businesses. His father started the Whakatane Beacon in 1939. He is a passionate golfer (9 handicap) and is involved in the community as a golf club committee, Board of Trustees at St Joseph’s School, and a volunteer helper at the Catholic Church. John has been chairperson of the Eastern BOP Life Education Trust for 17 years and is a Life Member of Life Education Trust (NZ).

Trustee: Cameron Bagrie

Cameron has been an economist for 20 years and was the Chief Economist at ANZ Bank for 11 years before leaving in late 2017 to establish his own economic advisory business. Cameron is a regular commentator in the media and now spends his time working with a range NZ businesses and institutions both on today’s issues and future trends and potential disruptors. He grew up in Central Otago and has two primary school aged daughters who were excited when they learnt he was coming to work with Life Education.


Trustee: Dee Lambie

Dee is an HR Practitioner and was a founding employee and then Director at HR management company Humankind, working across both public and private sector business, before leaving in 2017 to pursue consultancy roles. Prior to being involved in Humankind as a start-up, Dee worked with Trimble Navigation, Kensington Swan and Russell McVeagh. Dee has four school aged children.

Trustee: Graham Lawrence

Graham is a Chartered Accountant and Partner of Bellingham Wallace in Auckland. Graham is a tax specialist and Senior Member of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and independent director and trustee on a number of boards and trusts. Graham has three children and enjoyed seeing Life Education teach at his children’s school before joining the Board.


Trustee: Christine Goodin

Christine’s involvement with Life Education began 22 years ago and is a founding Trustee of the Life Education Taranaki Trust and a Life Member of LET NZ. Christine’s family are actively involved in Life Education across different parts of NZ.  Christine has a long history of supporting at risk youth, providing care for more than 100 young people since 1995 and is heavily involved in the Taranaki Community.

Trustee: Jacqueline Taylor

Jacqueline began her career as a primary school teacher before pursuing her interests in financial education, investments and publishing. She is the founder of JUNO magazine, and engaged in all roles of this publication for five years. This later led to the launch of the JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme, of which she co-founded. More recently she acted as an Advisor to the Board and Director of Pie Funds Management with strengths in marketing, brand development and financial education. Jacqueline lives in Hawke’s Bay and has two primary school aged children.

Trustee: Jeff Hart

Jeff is CEO of the Benton Group, managing a diversified portfolio of assets, and has extensive history working in the area of business turnaround and insolvency. As a father to three young boys, Jeff sees first-hand the challenges that our kids are facing and places importance on empowering our children to help them grow. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Accounting.


Trustee: Dr Geoff Kira

Dr Kira is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at Massey University. He has a background in exercise physiology and biochemistry with a strong emphasis in practical applications and translational research. He is a senior Māori health researcher in the fields of exercise, nutrition and sleep and applying them for optimal health and wellness. Dr Kira specialises in applying mātauranga Māori and science to obtain the most promising outcomes from that interface.

The National Office Team

Situated in Wellington the National Office team support the community trusts, are responsible for programme development, the professional development of educators and the overall philosophical and strategic direction of Life Education in New Zealand.

The team are:

Chief Executive - John O'Connell 
John is responsible for the overall management of the organisation which includes building and supporting its internal framework, the acquisition of sponsors and funders and organisational development.

Finance Manager - Penny Robertson 
Penny manages our finances and provides each of our trusts with financial support and advice.

Programme and Development Manager - Jo Mortimer 
Jo oversees programme development, resource development and Educator professional development.

Education Support Manager - Michelle Dow 
Michelle oversees the initial training for our Educators around the country, she supports programme development and oversees the upgrade of our mobile classrooms.

Marketing and Communications Specialist - Hayley Sims
Hayley looks after our marketing collateral, social and traditional media, and internal and external communication.

Leader OMT - Cilla Bennett
Cilla coordinates our secondary school programmes - SMASHED and SMART$ and other projects.

Projects and Partnerships Manager - Belinda Cordwell
Belinda looks after our SMASHED and SMART$ programmes, works with our partners, and works on new projects. 

Office Administrator - Abby Saywell
Abby is our ‘go to’ and provides administration and accounts support to the team and Trusts across the country.

Content Specialist - Lisa Crombie
Lisa has joined the team to support our communications and help us share our stories.

Life Members

Life Education is very proud to have the following life members:


Val Whyte*

Ian Holyoake

John Spring

Stephen Burnett


Joslyn Tjeerd

Lance Hutchison, QSM

John Beattie

Bruce Darvill, QSM*

Rob Wilton


Trevor King, QSM*

Robyn Paterson

Margaret Radford

Peter Cox

Roy Savage*


Michael Cooney, QSM

Pat Seymour, OBE

Paul Cressey, ONZM*

Jeanette McIntyre


Steve Graves

Brian Shearer

Steak (John) Goodin, QSM

Graeme Pentecost     


Kay Crosby

Astrid Martin

Jo Coughlan

Ian McBride


Chris Kirk Burnnand, MNZM


Allan Nichols

Brian Kelsey

Ian Emmerson

Debbie Given

Christine Goodin


Ray King

Grant Coward

Janet Lean

Keith Trembath

Roger Scammell


Mark Biggs

Dianne Henderson

Alison Gilbert

Mike Collins

Sheila Ellis

Ken Miller

* Deceased