Regional Comments & Contacts

a..  Northland:   

Advisor: Sheryn Comrie
Rushbrook Road, RD 1 Kamo 0121
Ph 09 433 5756 


Chaplaincy: Margaret Williams,


Of the 94 schools in the large region, 52 have Christian Religious Education, and of these 21 are in the Whangarei area.There is a strong local Committee with strong links to churches through church representatives. It is hoped to build this link further. The local Convenors meet the same day as the Committee, ahead of the Committee meeting. There is regular training over 4 mornings in February with basic training each term, based on need. The training team is equipped to travel to take training days in the mid and far north. There are big travelling distances in the far north. The mid-year training is taken in school time, in lieu of RE classes so that schools can see our volunteers taking professional development. Hugh Dickey and Jean Morley from CBM went north to take Life Focus training, and an inspirational visit in 2003 from Rose Pyle.

Kaitaia has a shortage of teachers but good local relationships; they raise funds from cake stalls, and have a resource centre in a local Christian bookshop. Local fundraising enabled the Covenant Players to visit schools in the past 2 years. In some rural areas RE is taken in 5 week blocks. The northernmost school with RE is Ngataki, 40 minutes from Cape Reinga, where children at this 80% Maori school eagerly await their weekly RE lesson, ably taken by a local person who has that same day travelled 35 minutes to teach RE near Ninety Mile Beach. A senior couple, Elias and Elsie Kerr, aged 92 and 87 teach at 6 schools near Dargaville, involving a great deal of travelling.

There is concern about some schools asking parents to opt their children in, rather than out, making it harder to sustain a programme.

Northland needs an Advisor’s position to take on some of Sheryn’s role as Training Coordinator, and to keep sub-districts connected.

Overall it is heartwarming and encouraging to see the commitment of so many Northland teachers, and all are praying for the need for more teachers in a region where schools are more than ready with open doors to have a RE programme.

Chaplaincy The north is the cradle of Christian faith. Its little white churches set in paddocks are over 100 years old and still used from missionary days. There are also some ‘trendy’ pockets. 50-90% of children are Maori, often in bi-lingual schools with pakeha staff and principals. So chaplains need special training in how to relate to Maori children and an understanding of language and culture.

There are different needs in rural areas, many of which are isolated and impoverished economically. The schools are small, either primary or Area schools. There are 7 chaplains, mainly in the Bay of Islands area. Five trained chaplains are waiting to be placed, and some who are not prepared to use their training for various reasons. Three are waiting to enter a CARE course. One chaplain is working alongside a teacher in a special classroom on the school boundary for students who are no longer allowed in the school. All chaplains find group supervision important.

There are some negatives: 2 schools who declined to have a chaplain on the objection of one BOT member, one who would not sign a contract as they were unsure if Christianity was appropriate in the school,. The rise of so many kura kaupapa schools, and kohanga reo who have a spirituality but do not allow the Christian faith to be taught or acknowledged is also cause for concern.

Distance is a problem. It is 3 hours (155kms) from Kerikeri to Whangarei, where the main committee meet once a month.

There is a strong Roman Catholic presence in RE teaching and Chaplaincy.

The north needs its own structure of support and prayers.

b.. North Shore:

Advisor: Elsabe Jacobson
P O Box 158, Puhoi, Auckland 1240
Ph 09 422 0050  



The collection of National Statistics was a blessing as Elsabe was motivated to update the data base, with annual electronic updates planned, and a log of training completed. She used 3 helpers to ring around for missing data. It was a shock to see how many more teachers needed training, even after 140 had attended training in the first 6 months of the year.

She has visited schools with her lists, met with Convenors afterwards explaining Modules 1 and 2 and the responsibility teachers have to complete training.

There was disappointment that less than half of the local 200 churches were actively involved, and so the video "You can do it" was developed and sent to each church with a covering letter and poster. They also sent a letter reminding churches of CEC Sunday and that someone from CEC would approach them about recognising CEC’s ministry on that day. They were given a list of the volunteer teachers from their church to support and pray for, and the situation of their local schools, the number of classes taught, and how many more were available if volunteer teachers could be found.

There were no school closures this year, and one new school.

The Lord is faithful and powerful.


c.. Auckland:

Programme Director: Barbara Jones
Auckland CEC, P O Box 17 178, Green Lane, Auckland
Ph 09 526 0052    

Chaplaincy: Annette Billings



Auckland is holding its own in Christian Religious Education, with a slight increase in the number of children reached, in 65% of the available schools. There is concern about the turnover in volunteer teachers. Barbara outlined the range and number of workers in Auckland CEC, from her full-time paid position as Programme Director, to part-time advisors and chaplaincy coordinators. She noted that 39% of RE teachers pay for their own resources, and 37% comes from local churches.

Key activities have been

  • Service Quality: essential training, team leaders and observers lunches, hosting a CARE course, and developing a policy for visiting speakers in schools.
  • Profile and Fund raising, Recruitment: New RE promotional material ("making an impact") 2 mail outs to churches, Rhema advertisements for chaplaincy, a new chaplaincy newsletter, a recognition dinner, and developing a website. There is a challenge to reach the volunteers who are around the ‘fringes and do not attend training and functions. The overall goal is to be a presence in many more churches. Strategic planning meetings have focussed on planning priorities.
  • Challenges and Opportunities: Raising the profile of CEC in the Christian community, raising funds to support the organisation admits future growth, improving the standard of service in schools, and becoming known as an effective, flexible, credible and reliable organisation, providing strong support and relevant material for teachers and chaplains.

d.. Greater Waikato

Advisor: Wendy Baker
114 Mansell Ave, Hamilton
Ph 07 856 9063  


Chaplaincy: Lynda Matthews,


Great training days have been held for teachers from across a wide geographical area.


King Country:

Local Area Coordinator: Douglas Gibbs
189 Miro St, Taumarunui 2600
Ph 07 896 6618


King Country is our newest district. Here they not only take Religious Education into schools, they provide breakfast for the children as well.



e.. Eastern Bay of Plenty:

Advisor: Kathleen Deal
53 Bridge Street, Whakatane 3080
Ph 07 307 0444 


Chaplaincy: Pam Eatwell,


Recent floods and earthquakes caused the AGM to be deferred. The region has had a successful year. The Board is blessed by it faithful members, and meet every 2 months, the Committee carries other responsibilities, with Pam Eatwell looking after Chaplaincy, Josie Rohde as Secretary, Christine O’Neill as Treasurer. There are 4 areas within the region: Opotiki, Whakatane, Kawerau, and Rangitaiki Plains. The Ministers Association in Whakatane and Kawerau links to CEC through 2 members.

Praise God for the faithfulness and joy of bringing the Gospel to a third of the children in the region, and for God’s faithfulness in answered prayers. There are some kura kaupapa schools, some teachers take several classes. Margie Smith, for example, takes 9 classes, and is also a trainer at Training Days.

Highlights have been meetings in Tauranga of the wider Bay of Plenty region, a Christmas lunch with Judy Turner MP as guest, training sessions, and talks with Jan Scanlan in Gisborne on providing resources at a township on the ‘border’. The region is trying to encourage RE in Murupara and Galatea.

Chaplaincy is going well in 5 schools with Pam Eatwell as coordinator, and Kathleen Deal as Negotiator. Some schools have ‘vacancies’ and await chaplaincy placements.


f.. Bay of Plenty/Rotorua: 

Advisor: Tanya Kaio
162 Pukehangi St, Rotorua 3201
Ph 07 349 4287  


 CEC Rotorua have been surprised by 2 generous donations which will enable the work of CEC to spread. And another great blessing: At a recent training day everyone who attended was rewarded with a $10.00 petrol voucher kindly donated by Archers Auto Springs, and an anonymous donor, both of whom wanted to honour the work that our volunteer teachers do.

g.. Bay Of Plenty/ Tauranga:

Advisor: Pauline Walker
9 Te Arawa Place, Welcome Bay, Tauranga
Ph 07 544 1883
Chaplaincy: Bev Pittan,


A highlight of the year was the lunch for all RE teachers with encouraging guest speakers. 2004 Statistics show that the region is teaching RE to more children but teachers are taking more classes each to maintain the coverage. Cool Bananas helps within CEC, using the Life Focus syllabus.

There has been good attendance at training seminars, using Dan Martin as puppeteer, and Joan Roberts of Te Puke as resource people. Accreditation is progressing well.

Bev Pittans has ‘zoned’ groups of schools with a coordinator for each zone to aid communication. Tauranga is the fastest growing area of New Zealand, which means new schools and larger rolls.

Pauline gave notice of her resignation at the end of the year after 12 years as Advisor, though she will continue her RE teaching and convening role. She commented on the change to CEC in the Bay of Plenty. The region has grown from being part of Central North Island (including Waikato, Coromandel, King Country and Bay of Plenty) to one separate Bay of Plenty region in 2000, to three stand alone regions in 2003.

Chaplaincy: Miranda, and Stu are involved at Committee level and as chaplains, both of these people have diplomas from Bethlehem Institute of Education.

h.. Gisborne/East Coast:

Advisor: Jan Scanlan
17 Lloyd George Rd, Gisborne 3801
Ph 06 867 3896

Chaplaincy: Diane McLean,


Prayer support is essential; a prayer group meets every Monday morning, and Jan takes time to recharge at a retreat in January each year. Lunches are held each term for encouragement and fellowship.

There are 2 part-time paid professional teachers taking Life Focus in 15 schools which would have lost a Christian presence otherwise. This is a sacrifice from both teachers especially for the rural worker on the East Coast given the long distances on the East Coast.

There are 60 volunteer teachers, 6 fewer than last year. Two schools have closed, and next year 10 rural schools will merge or close on the East Coast and in Wairoa. CEC Gisborne are encouraged to have increased the number of schools having RE (41 out of 71). Training for accreditation has been held in the city and in Ruatoria.

There was a challenge to RE from one school wanting an alternative programme to replace RE, but 72% of parents voted to keep the RE programme.

In August Gisborne region will host a Life Focus seminar for all Life Focus teachers, with billets offered to those from out of the area. Most of the Gisborne/East Coast area uses Life Focus for seniors and ‘Religion in Life’ for juniors.

Chaplaincy: Chaplains have grown from 3 to 4. One started by playing guitar for a kapahaka group and then was asked for by second school. Another placement is pending.

Jan writes:

The Principal of a small rural school shared a wonderful, encouraging story of two boys in Year 8 whose leaving speech said that the best thing about school was their Bible in School teachers, how they liked what they had taught them. It had helped them to know right from wrong. These boys had been placed in the school for serious behaviour problems and a policeman and others in the audience were stunned to hear this.


i.. Hawkes Bay:

Advisor: Joan Ball
4 Balmoral St, Taradale, Napier  4001
Ph 06 844 5863  


Chaplaincy: Kerry Smith,


It is with great pleasure that I present my 14th Annual report as Advisor. I continue to give thanks to God that the work He has commissioned us to do has been successful for another year in the Hawkes Bay.

I have just completed a survey of the district. Several schools have closed or have merged with others, and I appreciate the way our Bible in Schools teachers have been able to help both children and staff at these schools. The Dannevirke area has been the hardest hit in our district and Ann and her team have been used in a mighty way to soften the blow.

Police vetting has been completed successfully with only forms for new folk coming in now. The schools are appreciating the professional way that CEC has approached this area.

We are reaching 4552 children in our schools, taught by 119 teachers. Of these 66 are accredited. Two schools who do not have a weekly programme allow us to go in to present Easter and Christmas lessons and we reach 860 students in this way. There is a wide range of denominations coming together with a common goal. There is a need though for more people to join the CEC team. I am grateful for those who are taking several classes. We need to keep recruiting.

‘Religion in Life’ is the main syllabus in the classroom situation while ‘Life Focus’ is most acceptable for larger groups. Some smaller schools have chosen to use ‘Life Focus’ and have the entire school taken together. This is a big challenge for the presenters with such an age range. Feedback from schools has been favourable especially in the Values Education area.

The District Committee has purchased several copies of the CEC promotional video and will be asking churches in the region to show these videos to encourage people to join our team.

I continue to have contact with school principals and appreciate the support we receive from them. It is encouraging to have several new convenors this year. It is a joy to me to have some accredited teachers return to the classrooms this year.

I would like to thank all the teachers who give unstintingly of their time and enjoy sharing with the children of Hawkes Bay their personal love and knowledge of our Lord, so that the youngsters can make an informed choice whether or not they will follow the teachings Jesus has given us.


Chaplaincy is going well at Mayfair School. Graham Robertson, known as Robbie, is chaplain there. He is a friend to the children and attends school sports on a Saturday and school functions. Kerry Smith is still Coordinator and keeps in touch though she has moved back to Wairoa. We are grateful for the expertise she continues to offer to us.


j.. Taranaki:

Advisor for RE and Chaplaincy: Molly King
225 Tukapa St, New Plymouth 4601
Ph 06 753 4023  



Molly, in her report, asked the meeting to consider Zaccheus and the tree that enabled him, as a little guy, to get a glimpse of Jesus. She suggested that we too were helping people who were little of stature to do just that. She invited people to draw a (Taranaki) Kauri tree, with a strong trunk (CEC), and roots (prayer, local committees, volunteers, churches, schools and community). Then the branches – for Taranaki 26 chaplains, 23 placed and 3 nearly placed. And the greenery: 2 major traumas, 2 CARE courses (2002 and 2004), get togethers, training days, group supervision. And for RE, the branches represents 33 schools, 100 teachers, 10 Life Focus schools, 12 with ‘Religion in Life’, 11 with Connect. And the greenery from that branch was school mergers and training. She noted the committee support and community support through TSB.

k.. Wanganui:

Secretary: Wilma Staples
46 Totara St, Wanganui 5001
Ph 06 344 4466

l.. Manawatu:

Advisor: Shirley Pegler
16 Parkland Cres, Palmerston North 5301
Ph 06 358 6424    

Chaplaincy: Sheila Malcolm,


Manawatu region think of themselves as net casters rather than head-hunters!

  • They have recruited senior students from Longburn Adventist college as helpers, and 10 now come into established RE classes to assist and observe, and then taking a trial lesson in pairs. This scheme is working to the benefit of both students and CEC, and students may eventually lead junior classes.
  • Applying successfully for trust funds (useful "How To’ booklet from Waikato Trust).
  • Successful training day with quality guest speakers and great feedback.
  • Chaplaincy has taken off with 1-5 school doors opening, 4 chaplains are placed and one released by and paid by her local church.
  • Visit to Levin area to encourage the team
  • Quality people joining RE teams e.g. youth pastors
  • Bible Society trolley cases, supplied by the Bible Society for carrying Bibles around classrooms
  • Statistics show that RE is in 76 of the 101 local schools.
  • Great teams and great Regional Committee

And here is an encouragement from Sharon Wilton's class:

Prayers from the hearts of Russell Street School children

These prayers were written on the child’s worksheet titled "I can talk to God. I can pray." RIL syllabus "Look around’ Part 2 Unit 8:4. These children are 7-8 year olds in a state school (complete with child’s spelling attempts!)


                         "everyone to understand how important it is to obey God."

                                               "my Mum have her baby safely"

"me to stop sinning"

"God!! Please help my nana survive her sicknis r men"

"to find my lost robopod bit."

"because my pet dog is lost somewhere"

"me find more friends"

"my brother to get better amen"

  • I WANT TO TELL YOU… " that our world is not yet perfect"

                                        " that I love you"

                                        " I want to tell you that I am happy"

                                        "can you help the world" (and she drew a little person with speech bubble saying "I believe in Jesus")

                                         " I want to go to heaven"

                                         " that I love you forever"

                                         " that I had noone to play with yesday"

  • THANKYOU…….. " God for this beautiful world you have given"

                              " for promising not to flood again."

                              " thankyou God for giving me a good sleep"

                              " for helping me"

                               " for my Mum and Dad"

                               " for dieing at ester"

                               " for everything that you have done for us"

                               " for my lovely world!"

  • I AM SORRY ……… " for all the times I have sined against you"

                                " for being harsh on some people"

                                " I am sorry I did not beileve in you last year"

                                " for fogeting to belave in god and Jesus when I was little."

                                " I kicked and hit Dayna"

                                " forgetting you"

                                " for yelling at my parents"

  • I FEEL …… " happy because I Love god!"

                      " very happy because you are ther."

                       (this tickled me…) " sad and angry becase a present I got for my birthday is faulty."

                       " bad for sinning"

As an RE teacher, I found this particular lesson so encouraging and a very good indicator to see if any seeds are germinating and I think you will agree, they are. Please continue to pray for these precious children to grow in their faith. Praise the Lord!

- Sharon Wilton


m. Wellington:

District Coordinator: Mary Davis
7 Kaponga St, Wainuiomata
Ph 04 970 4605  


Chaplaincy: Janet Meehan,


Local AreaCoordinators are:
Kapiti:  Kathleen Fleck     23 Glen Loch Place, Paraparaumu
    Sue Whiting  6 Vaucluse Ave, Paraparaumu

Porirua: Felicity Tucker  C/- Freedom Church, P O Box 53 033, Cannons Creek
Tawa/Newlands: Jenny McGlone 6 Brasenose Pl,

Lower Valley: Enid Logan 341 Riverside Dr, Lower Hutt 
Upper Valley: Ofelia Speirs 9 Whitechapel Grove, Stokes Valley,

Wairarapa Andrea Clarke 49 Opaki Rd, Masterton

RE programmes are in 42 of the available 160 schools in the greater Wellington area, and class numbers are dropping. Mary acknowledged the work of ‘SUpakids’ who have good programmes in lunchtimes or after school. This is the only outreach into schools in Wellington city, a hard area to find acceptance in. It is hoped that by building relationships with a school, they may eventually want a RE programme. In the last two years Wellington CEC has applied to 8 schools offering RE in school time, and have been turned down. CEC has offered lunch time programmes in 2 Upper Valley schools. Hard work has gone into encouraging teachers to improve their skills through training.

- An ‘Inspirational Day’ was held, targeting experienced teachers and Module 7 with its focus on creativity.

- a Mentors Training Day - mentors work with newly trained teachers until they are ready to be on their own.

- Convenors Training day on leading a team.

Some Wellington schools are the subject of School Reviews. In one school parents are being given a choice of a values education programme led by the classroom teachers, and CEC’s RE programme, a hard choice for some.

Chaplaincy: There are 5 continuing chaplains and one new placement. Promotional meetings have been held with Ministers Associations. One outcome of churches studying the ‘40 Days of Purpose’ ministry has been Fairs held at the end which have advertised the work in schools of CEC. Lots of information packs have been sent out, but few follow through.

She had held group supervision and resource meetings, but numbers attending had been low.



n.. Nelson:

Advisor: Trish McIntyre
71 Queen St, Richmond, Nelson 7002
Ph 03 544 0336
Chaplaincy: Lois Freeman,

o.. Marlborough:

Advisor: Herb Ritchie
P O Box 317, Blenheim 7315
Ph 03 578 5754  


This is the smallest area in New Zealand, but every teacher is using During the national statistics survey, Herb discovered 8 schools without RE where the teachers had dropped out. All class material is provided by the churches in Marlborough. There are positive signs in what God is doing in the district and through teachers.

p. Canterbury/West Coast:

Advisors: Dianne and Bob Jaeger
9 Dunarnan St, Avonside, Christchurch 8006
Ph 03 389 8433  


Bob and Diane Jaeger are the new field workers. The change of direction and title reflects Canterbury’s vision to work with and alongside people. There have been changes to the District Committee with 3 resignations; Yanny Webb after 21 years of involvement, Warren Read as Chaplaincy Coordinator, and Trish Jamieson. The challenge for the future was to find good people for the District Committee with both the skills and the passion for the work.

Training has been held over 4 sessions and has included Westport, Cheviot, Timaru, and Christchurch. The title recently (with more balloons) was ‘Are you deflated?".

A Convenors evening in April was well attended.


The Chaplaincy Assistance Fund has paid for 50% of the cost of a trained supervisor. Two training sessions in Christchurch were well attended. There are 16 chaplains in place, 10 primary, 4 in High Schools, and 2 in Area Schools. The challenge again is to find more people who are suited to chaplaincy.

. Otago:

Advisor: Jean Kirk
43 Glendevon Place Dunedin 9001
Ph 03 454 5708  




Churches: provide volunteer teachers, fund resources, church leaders are invited to the AGM coffee and dessert.

Committee: was stable until April when 4 members were ‘lost’ and are hard to replace.

Convenors: some superb people working very hard with RE teams and building great relationships with their schools.

Education: The national survey showed that Otago was keeping steady, but it is sad not to be able to run programmes through a shortage of suitable RE teachers.

Educating: All Basic training modules were covered in May training in Dunedin, and there was regular visiting to other areas.

Education: Joan expressed her thanks publicly to the Dunedin Presbyterian Synod for grants to keep the work of Otago CEC going.

Chaplaincy: Otago has 16 chaplains, 4 biding their time helping in other areas until placements are found. Several have "done their bit" and some have moved from the region.

Coordinator: Otago are looking to appoint a paid part-time Coordinator

Cooperating with other like minded groups for training, and extension. Scripture Union training seminars were one example, and Bible College of NZ wanting to assist.

r.. Southland:

Advisor for RE and Chaplaincy: Nardia Livingstone
36 Conyers St, Invercargill
Ph 03 216 7365 

"Where is God in the School Reviews" had been the title of the Southland AGM, with people hearing how it was to live through school reviews. God was presenting the opportunity to present a Christian way. Nardia visited school Principals with a letter saying that CEC was praying for and supporting them in these times of uncertainty and change. And the outcomes would remain uncertain until the end of 2004. Sixteen school sites were to be reduced to 6 sites, with some wonderful Principals and staff being lost to the system in the process. However, RE teachers who currently teach at more than one school on different days of the week will be unable to cover all the classes at the resulting merged schools unless more teachers are found for the task.

Meetings were held for them each term. RE training days were held regularly with mini-modules at the beginning of the year. One key activity was ‘Revival in May", a training day open to all children’s ministry people whether Sunday School, Kids Klubs, and there was good feedback on the worth and benefit of these. BCNZ Southland have provided a course to cover training m modules in more depth. There is an emphasis on accreditation. The involvement of trained "observers’ for observations lessons will help achieve the goal that all RE teachers in Invercargill city will be accredited by the end of 2004.

Southland had publicised CEC Sunday. Schools in the south appreciate CEC’s ministry, they still expect CEC to be in their schools and they value them.

The District Committee has been implementing the new structures which Dean Comerford had outlined. Dean has moved from Southland, and the region is still looking to replace him as Chairman. Nardia is Acting Chair in the meantime.

Chaplaincy: Of the 13 chaplains, 3 were in place 10 years ago. They meet in small groups once a term with a guest speaker. Several have attended personal training during the year, and extra resources were bought to help them in their role in schools.


CEC  National Office is happy to try and answer all  your questions about Religious Education in schools and chaplaincy issues. We will also direct you to the right people and resources.

Please don't hesitate to contact us now!