15% households with school aged children without internet access       39% of Aucklanders born overseas       82% of 18 year olds have NCEA Level 2       22% unemployment for 15-24 year olds       94.6% attend pre-school       1 in 4 children in poverty       79% pass NCEA Literacy in Yr 11       76% at or above national reading standards starting high school

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About COMET Auckland


The Trustees serve on a voluntary basis. They meet once a month and the Chairperson is required to submit a report to Auckland Council twice a year.



Richard Hall - Chair

Richard Hall believes in the transformative impact of education. He has worked in the Auckland University of Technology for over 12 years: he is currently the Executive Director of its South Campus.  Prior to this appointment, he was heavily involved in the University’s strategic advancement, leading the development of the University’s Investment Plan and subsequent negotiations with the Tertiary Education Commission.

He joined the board of COMET in December 2013 and assumed the chair in August 2014. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 and made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) 2010.



Brian Putt

Brian is a self employed town planner with 38 years of professional work in local, district, regional and central government planning.  He has a long involvement with North Shore community organisations from his time as a councillor on the former Northcote Borough Council (from 1980 – 1989).

He was part of the establishment of Awataha Marae and Onepoto Awhina.  Brian was an elected councillor on the inaugural North Shore City Council from 1982 – 1992.  He chaired the Northcote Soccer Club for six years and was member and Chair of the Northcote College Board of Trustees for seven years.  He was the North Shore appointee to the AUT Board for three years.

Brian’s interests remain in the strategic purpose and function of community development.  He sees his professional skills as a valuable tool to assist in helping NSCSS confront and liaise with central and local government organisations.  Brian is married with four adult children and four grandchildren.  He has lived in Northcote for 38 years.

Brian is a visiting lecturer to Unitec School of Architecture (since 2003).  He is currently chair of the Birkdale Beachhaven Community Project and inaugural convenor of the Kaipatiki Public Arts Trust.


Julie Dent

Julie is an early childhood teacher and is currently the Programme Leader for Early Childhood Education at the New Zealand School of Education (NZSE). She is also the National Moderator (acting) ECE for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

She is involved in advocacy for young children and is the secretary for the Auckland Chapter of OMEP, an international organisation that advocates for young children worldwide. Julie is also on the Board of Trustees for a school in West Auckland where she lives.


Morgan Borthwick


Morgan is a librarian specialised in the delivery of children’s services based at Remuera Library. Over the years he has worked in a number of libraries promoting their services throughout Auckland with a particular focus on South and East Auckland. Morgan believes strongly in the importance of education from an early age and sat on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Panel for two years holding the education portfolio and was also the youth advocate for the Orakei Local Board for a two year term.

He is currently completing his Masters in Information Studies through Victoria University via distance learning. Morgan has a particular interest in the area of children’s literacy and early childhood development and advocates for these both in his work and in his position as a trustee of COMET.


Jannitta Pilisi

Jannitta has extensive experience as a senior executive in the tertiary education sector.  She recently completed a contract with AUT University's South Campus in a community-engagement focussed role, and assisted the newly opened MOE Partnership School "Pacific Advance Senior School" as an Academic Board member.

She also served on the Tertiary Education Commission's Pasifika Working Group, preceded by 11 years of service as a directorate member of a large Private Training Establishment. Jannitta has successfully undertaken a number of local and international consulting projects which include business systems design, governance, advocacy, event management and legal advice. As a proud Kiwi-born Niuean, she also maintains strong connections with Aotearoa New Zealand's rich and diverse communities.


Andrew Abernethy

Andrew is a corporate lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions and funds structuring.  He is qualified to practise in New York, England & Wales, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

He attended Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland, and the Law School at The University of Chicago.  He has spent most of his career abroad, practising in New York, London, Hong Kong and Dubai and is now based in Auckland, where his three children attend school.


Ginnie Denny

Ginnie Denny works at the interface of business and education to create sustainable training platforms that meet the needs of both individual learners and their workplaces. She has a special interest in strengthening adult literacy and numeracy provision.

Ginnie has worked for the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and various Industry Training Organisations and Private Training Establishments to develop robust systems and processes to support learning.

Ginnie currently holds the Chair for Ako Books – a social enterprise producing in Early Childhood Education resources and is a Trustee on New Zealand Equine Education Trust.



Barbara Cavanagh

Barbara is the foundation principal of Albany Senior High School in Auckland, New Zealand. She started her teaching career as an English and Drama teacher and she has taught in a wide range of schools including Northcote College in Auckland and Fairfield College in Hamilton. Barbara has had two previous principalships - at Ngaruawahia High School and Te Awamutu

College, both in the Waikato. She is passionate about education, has worked on many of the professional bodies that mentor and support teachers and principals and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of establishing the first state funded senior high school in New Zealand. Barbara has a strong commitment to developing the talent that every student brings to the school to fully prepare them for the next stage of their lives. This commitment extends to developing the talents of the staff to ensure that Albany Senior High School continues to grow the educational leaders of the future.


Caroline (Ligi) Harris

Caroline is the national Pasifika Engagement Advisor for the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) Service IQ.  She works across multiple industries in the service sector to advance Pasifika success outcomes. She is also a member of the Māori and Pasifika forum group at the Industry Training Federation (ITF).  

Caroline has worked in education for over 20 years in various roles as teacher, course developer, education advisor, programme manager and leader of community initiated programmes, using her creative talents to innovate meaningful programmes for diverse people groups.  

Alongside her work, Caroline is a trustee member of the Community and Voluntary Sector Research Centre and is also studying for her Masters in Educational Leadership through Auckland University Technology (AUT). 

She lives in South Auckland caring for her elderly parent, and is of mixed heritage; Samoan (NZ), Chinese, American with ancestral links to Tonga.  


Jayne Mayerhofler

Jayne has been involved in the education industry for the past 9 years, working at a regional and national level, within the secondary schools sector. Here she has engaged with prospective students and their key influencers, to inspire and inform them to consider tertiary education.  Jayne has a good understanding and in-depth knowledge of the compulsory education sector, having partnered with Principals and their staff to up-skill and empower youth to become tertiary ready, make well informed decisions and to feel a strong sense of belonging, connectedness with tertiary education



Anne Candy




Jignasha Patel