2022 - who are we?

Leanne Heaps - Chairperson

Hi, I became Chair of the Mataura School Board of Trustees at the start of term 4 2016. I am mum to Zoe (9) Room Takahē and Lachlan (6) who is in Room Tūī, my eldest son Max (11) has just started at Longford Intermediate. My husband Mark and I live on his family sheep farm in Ferndale. I have a Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in Economics and a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies both from Massey University. I have previously worked in the Rural Servicing industry in Fertiliser Sales and in more recent years as an Agri Finance Manager with ANZ Bank. Locally I am currently the convenor of the Mataura Junior Rugby Club. I have previously been in roles on Mataura Plunket, Gore Kids Hub and Gore Toy Library. Our board's focus is on great outcomes for all our students and I enjoy seeing the progress being made by our students. I meet weekly with Mrs Dennison with updates on what is occurring in the school to ensure I am always informed, during these meetings we also continue our work to ensure we are on target to achieving our schools goals. If you would like to contact me please either email leanneh@mataura.school.nz or call me on 0272038867.


Anah Solomon

Kia ora koutou. Ko Putahi tōku maunga, ko Omapere tōku roto, ko Ngātokimatawhaorua tōku waka, ko Ngāpuhi tōku iwi, ko Anah Solomon tōku ingoa.

Hi I am Anah and Mum to Sela Kaufusi (12) who is a Year 8 in the Bilingual Class, Ruma Ruru, with Matua Hutana. I am a Registered Nurse currently pursuing my love of te reo me ona tikanga Māori at Kia Ngawari Te Kōhanga Reo where I am one of the Kaiawhina and the Kaitari (Administrator). I am into my sixth year on the Board and am the Māori/Community Liaison as well as contributing to Documentation and the Secretary. I am enjoying the ongoing challenge and learning experience of the Board, and the chance to assist in providing great opportunities for all our tamariki.

Please feel free to contact me at anah@mataura.school.nz or 2036005 ngā mihi.


Renee Kells

Hello, I’m Renee Kells. My husband Matt and I moved into the Mataura district in 2013 when an opportunity came up for us in the dairy farming industry. We have four children, Maddison (9) Room Kererū, Hannah (8) Room Pūkeko, Indie (5) Room Kiwi, and the youngest Hunter at Hope Preschool two days a week. I joined the board at the start of 2019. I have a passion to ensure our children are given the best opportunities possible. If there is something you want to bring to the boards attention please feel free to get in touch with me directly or email me at renee@mataura.school.nz


Katherine Chamberlain

My connection to Mataura School began in 2013 when I started work here as a school social worker and it didn't take long to feel at home. I love seeing five year olds that I met back then over lunchtime colouring, now as the big kids and leaders in our school. I've been a Mataura School parent since 2019 when our daughter started in Ruma Kiwi. I'm hoping to contribute my skills and experience by serving on the Board and supporting the great mahi that happens here. Our family moved into Mataura last year and are loving living locally. My hope is that everyone here can feel proud to call Mataura home and when our kids look back in years to come, they will see how their time at Mataura School helped lay the groundwork for future success in life.


Keith Richardson

Hi I'm Keith, I've been dairy farming for the past 14 years just out of Mataura in Ferndale. Myself and wife Kimberly have 2 children, Charlie and Thomas. Charlie is in her 2nd year at Mataura school and Thomas is currently at Hope Preschool. I attended Mataura School for all my primary years before moving onto Longford, then Gore High. With Charlie at Mataura School I feel now is the time to get involved and help out. If you have anything you would like taken to the board flick me an email on keith@mataura.school.nz


Shona Willis - Staff Trustee

My name is Shona Willis and I teach Room Pūkeko. This is my eighth year teaching at Mataura School, and the seventh year that I am on the Board as the staff trustee. I am responsible for the Health and Safety portfolio, as well as sharing responsibility for Property, and I report to the Board on these areas at every meeting.

I was born and raised in Singapore. I left in 2003 to go to university in Scotland, where I completed undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Economics. I also have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification, and have taught English in Cambodia. I moved to New Zealand in 2011 with my husband, who is from Dunedin, and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in primary teaching. I have lived in Gore since 2012, and enjoy reading, yoga, and gardening.

If you would like to contact me, then you can either email me at shona@mataura.school.nz, or make an appointment to see me at the school office.


Susan Dennison – Principal

Kia Ora, I began here as principal in 2006. I am married to John, and we have 1 child at St Peter’s College, Albert in Year 13. Tom is an apprentice builder. Our oldest, Louise, is working in Christchurch. We spend weekends on family adventures, collecting firewood, in the garden, or doing home improvements. And I really love going out for coffee!

I studied at Otago University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Education, and a Diploma of Teaching. I come from a teaching family as my Mum was a teacher and one of my sisters is. My teaching career started in Greymouth, then Christchurch, and then at Longford Intermediate and St Mary’s in Gore.

My goals for our school are to find ways for all students to make progress in their learning and to learn how to be a great person in our community, for some this will mean looking at interesting ways for us to engage and motivate them. Engagement is where students have a real connection to their learning, can make the decisions, and know when they have had success. We often do that here through using the natural environment and the resources that we have around us. We also try to have a real variety of activities going on so that our learners have plenty to talk about, write about, and find out about.