Kia ora and welcome to the Te Kura o Tititea Mount Aspiring College School Board. Our board focuses on governance that nurtures and supports the ongoing improvement of student progress and achievement with an inclusive learning environment. We value the contribution of community members, parents and whānau who give their time and expertise to help us deliver the best possible educational outcomes for all our students. Please send any correspondence or enquiries to our Board Secretary Jo-Anne Cooper at: 

Purpose of the School Board

Our School Board plays an essential role in the success of our students by providing oversight of key functions of our school, including its strategic leadership and governance. The following governance approach aligns with the requirements of the Education Act 1989 and forms the basis of the Board’s working relationships, policy and processes.

  • The ongoing improvement of student progress and achievement is the Board’s focus.
  • The Board acts in a stewardship role and is entrusted to work on behalf of all stakeholders.
  • It is accountable for the school’s performance, emphasises strategic leadership, sets the vision for the school and ensures compliance with legal and policy requirements.
  • The Board and Principal form the leadership, with the role of each documented and understood.
  • The Board is proactive rather than reactive in its operations and decision making and
  • does not involve itself in the administration details of the day-to-day running of the school.

You can read more about the Board’s approach to governance in the School Board’s governance manual. 


Niamh Shaw

(Presiding Member / Parent Representative)

Niamh was elected to the Te Kura o Tititea | Mount Aspiring College School Board in 2022. She is first and foremost a mum with an (occasionally intense) appreciation of the variables that come with school-age children! Her governance experience includes 10 years of charitable and community advocacy work, including a three-year term as a Queenstown-Lakes District Councillor 2019-22.

Niamh is committed to ensuring excellent governance, with a focus on wellbeing and communication. She believes the best likelihood of healthy, positive outcomes for our young people is open engagement and dialogue across all levels: students, teachers/ staff, parents/caregivers and whānau, and the wider community.

As a representative of our parent community, Niamh also strives towards: supporting programmes and policies for students and staff that build resilience around risks facing our youth; a great interface between our community’s primary schools and the college; and facilitating our young people's critical transitions. 

Mark Sinclair

(Deputy Chair / Parent Representative)

Mark has been a member of the Mount Aspiring College School Board since June 2020, and has served as deputy chair since 2022. 

He brings significant governance experience to the board, having served on other boards, including Kahu Youth and Elmlea Junior School in Bristol, UK, as well as a NED role for a London based global recruitment consultancy. He has a strong community focus and is also deputy chair of Wānaka Stakeholders Group.

Mark believes that MAC can become one of the leading schools in the country, with a unique combination of an incredible environment, really capable teachers and staff, strong leadership from our principal and her team, and a close-knit community.

In his role as trustee, Mark is focussed on transparency, clear communication and good governance, ensuring that MAC continues to be a school that students and their families can be proud to be associated with. He is also particularly passionate about the wellbeing of all students and staff.

Mark grew up in Wānaka and moved back here with his wife Rachel and two children (now both at MAC) in 2017.

Ben Taylor

(Chair Finance/ Parent Representative)

Ben brings extensive experience to his role as the Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee. 

Professionally, Ben has worked as a financial adviser for 17 years and has also been involved in educational governance as Chair of Wānaka’s Montessori Children’s House, treasurer of the Wānaka Primary School board, and as a member of the finance committee of Te Kura O Take Kārara. He was also formerly a longstanding member and Chair of Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust.

Ben believes that a quality education is essential in preparing young people to make the most of the opportunities presented by our ever-changing world. He sees MAC as having the potential to be one of New Zealand’s leading schools thanks to the talent of its students, the motivation and support of its parent community, and the dedication of its teachers; and he believes that effective governance is integral to achieving that goal. 

Outside of his professional and community commitments, Ben enjoys skiing, mountain biking, wing foiling, running, swimming and spending time outdoors with his family.

Nicola Jacobsen


Nicola is a passionate educator who spent six years at Auckland’s Pakuranga College before taking up the position of Principal at Mount Aspiring College in 2021. Before her appointment to Pakuranga College, Nicola held senior positions at Botany Downs Secondary College. She is a graduate of the University of Canterbury and the Christchurch College of Education and completed a Master’s degree from the University of Auckland in 2019.

Nicola sees education as being about preparing young people for their lives now and in the future and she understands the importance of strong community connections in helping young people succeed at school. Nicola is proud to lead a school which serves the whole community and her educational philosophy is centred on the whakatauki:

He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.

As well as a passion for education in the classroom, Nicola is also passionate about education beyond the classroom. As a keen mountain biker, she appreciates how special Wānaka is in providing opportunities for young people to engage in the outdoors.

Ruth Heath

(Parent Representative)

Ruth is pleased to serve as a parent representative on the MAC board and she is committed to supporting the college to deliver maximum opportunity for engagement, excellence and wellbeing across the school curriculum for all students, in alignment with MAC's core values. Ruth believes that good governance is essential to achieving a school culture with the best possible outcomes for students, staff and the parent community at MAC. With a degree and leadership experience in education, and as a parent of four children at different stages in the MAC educational journey, Ruth offers a valuable perspective on the board.

Additionally, as the General Manager of the Wānaka Festival of Colour and Aspiring Conversations and a co-owner of a local small business with her husband, Ruth possesses a deep understanding of our community and MAC's role within it.  

Outside of her professional commitments, Ruth is an avid rock climber and adventurer and enjoys art, food, reading, family, friends, and walking her dog.

Shona Brown

(Parent Representative)

Emma Smith

(Staff Representative)

Emma is a skilled educator with 27 years’ teaching experience across four schools, where she has also held curriculum leadership roles in Health and Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC), has been a community of learning | kāhui ako lead in wellbeing, and a team leader. 

She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in History from the University of Otago and a Diploma of Teaching from Canterbury College of Education, and is guided by a teaching philosophy that focuses on building relationships with students and their whānau and celebrating student strengths both within and outside the curriculum. 

Emma believes it is important to be part of something bigger than yourself and that service, and giving time to others and organisations, is essential in building strong communities. She describes herself as an ‘active relaxer’ who enjoys walking, biking, cooking, reading, sewing and getting creative with interior decor. 

Zoe Laws

(Student Representative)

As the 2024 Student Representative, Zoe sees her main responsibility as bringing the opinions of her peers to the School Board. She believes that the student voice can be hugely influential in how the board functions, but only with sufficient representation. As part of her role, Zoe  aims to increase communication between the School Board and student body.

She is a keen debater and speaker, and outside her position as Student Representative, she enjoys helping run the school's Debate Club, getting involved in opportunities like Model UN, and participating in the Year 7 Peer Support programme. She is passionate about using her voice to amplify the opinions of MAC students of all ages, and she hopes to continue doing this in the coming year.

Board meeting dates

Board meetings are held twice a term and start at 6:00pm. If you would like to attend a meeting, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance by emailing our Board Secretary Jo-Anne Cooper at: 

Term 1 2024
13 February
19 March
Term 2 2024
14 May
18 June
Term 3 2024
6 August
17 September
Term 4 2024
5 November
3 December

Public attendance at board meetings

Members of our school and local community are welcome to attend board meetings. Please read this notice for public attendance at board meetings which outlines the procedures that are followed during the meetings. If you would like to attend a meeting, please let us know at least 24 hours in advance by emailing our Board Secretary Jo-Anne Cooper at: 

Board meeting agendas

Board meeting minutes





Audited financial statements

Standard Operating Procedures

Education Review Office Reports