The Board of Trustees of Houghton Valley School is responsible for the governance of the school.

The Board’s role is a strategic one, focused on the big picture and employing the Principal to manage the school.

The BOT is made up of the School Principal, a trustee from the school staff, several parent trustees who are elected by the parents, and other members who are appointed by the BOT.

The board’s role is set by the Education Act and the BOT is required to ensure the school meets the government’s National Education Priorities. These are:

  • Success for all
  • A safe learning environment
  • Improving Literacy and Numeracy
  • Better use of student achievement information
  • Improving outcomes for students at risk
  • Improving Maori student outcomes
  • Reporting

Parents are very welcome to attend board meetings.  This is a great way to learn about the board if you have an interest in becoming a parent representative.   Meeting dates are published in the school newsletter but don’t hesitate to get in touch with the board chair using the contact form below if you would like more information.

If you are a parent and have a question or an issue to raise with the board you are encouraged to speak with your child’s teacher in the first instance.  If any doubts remain, our principal makes a point of being highly available. Please do not hesitate to make contact.

Any issues that remain to be escalated to the board should be brought to the attention of the board chairperson.  You are welcome to use the contact form below to initiate contact.

Chairperson – Sarah Graydon


Kia ora tatou
My name is Sarah Graydon and I am the current chair of the board of trustees.  My daughter Eleanor is in her second year at HVS and is in Harakeke.  Her little brother William will join her in a couple of years but for now spends his time nearby, zooming around Houghton Valley Playcentre.
Our family loves living in the rugged and beautiful spot that is the South Coast. As a relative newcomer to the school community I have been struck by how friendly it is, what a great natural setting it has and how much the children enjoy being there.
I have worked as a lawyer for longer than I care to admit in a range of areas including commercial law, health and disability, telecommunications and property.
So far being a trustee has given me a real insight into the challenges and complexities of running a school and how committed the staff are to the children’s learning.


Parent Representative – Karen Parr


Tena koutou katoa,

Our family has been part of the school community for over five years, with Harry in Year 5 and Hannah and Emily in Year 3. I am originally from the UK, although have lived and worked for long stretches in Canada and Japan. We moved to New Zealand in 2007, and the community of Houghton Valley feels as much like home as anywhere ever could.

My work background is in teaching English as a foreign language, international relations and event management. I worked on the Nagano Winter Games in Japan, and then for WADA, implementing doping control for athletes in the run-up and during the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the Athens and Torino Olympic Games. Work now is rather less exciting; I work as a gardener in the local area, and am very lucky to spend my days outdoors in our beautiful environment.

Having been on the Board for just a short time, I am already hugely impressed by how hard the Principal and the teaching staff  work to educate our children. Much of this work is behind the scenes and goes far beyond what happens in the classroom.

I believe that the active involvement of parents, caregivers and of the wider community contributes hugely to a happy and positive learning environment. I am very keen on us maintaining good communication within the school community and encouraging feedback and questions about school life.

I think we have something very special here at Houghton Valley School, and feel privileged to have the opportunity to be able to help.

Parent Representative – Anya Satyanand

Edited in Lumia Selfie

Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi.

With the gifts you bring and the gifts I bring, the people will be nourished.

Tenā koutou, namaste, fakalofa lahi atu and warm south coast greetings. My name’s Anya Satyanand, and my partner Ange and I are proud to be mums to the wonderful Leilani (Year 1) and the fabulous Lola VFS (Year 3).

We love living in Houghton Bay and feel lucky to be members of this school community. We believe in Houghton Valley School and I am working on the board to support HVS to inspire our kids to become confident, collaborative, inspired children, who are learners for life. I want my girls to be challenged by learning that is deep, broad and connected to this amazing place we live.

I see our role as board as supporting the school at a strategic level to ensure that the classrooms our young people learn in are inquiring, inclusive, collaborative and actively celebrate diversity.

My professional background is secondary education. I have taught in several schools here in Aotearoa (Christchurch and Wellington), and for three years in South London. I’ve recently left the senior management team of Wellington High School where I was responsible for student wellbeing, curriculum development, health and safety and emergency planning, kaupapa Māori, and community engagement. I’m now working for Ara Taiohi, a not-for-profit organisation ( who are working to make all people working with young people more connected, effective and accountable. I have a range of experience in governance relating to youth development and schools.

No reira, tena koutou, tenā koutou, ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.

Parent Representative – Phil Walker

Phil Walker

Kia ora tātou. I’m Phil Walker our daughter Holly is in Kowhai, Year 3, and our youngest Sian will start next year.

Deanna and I have lived in Houghton Bay for many years and feel a real connection with this community and the beautiful landscapes which surround it.

I work in policy/strategy at the Children’s Action Plan, a cross government initiative aimed to improve outcomes for vulnerable children. I’ve got a background in the measurement of social wellbeing, community development and social service design and delivery. I am looking forward to contributing these skills through the board of trustees, to support our children at this very important beginning to their lifelong learning journeys.

I’m keen to see our school retain its special character as it grows and responds to changes both in the valley, and in the national policy environment.

Parent Representative – Andrew Downes

Kia ora,

This is my 3rd time as a Trustee. I have one daughter Lucy at Houghton Valley in Karaka and another daughter Cathryn who has just moved onto SWIS from Houghton Valley. Being a Trustee is a great way to contribute to the school, you get a different perspective on what makes the school ‘tick’ and you do get involved in lots of interesting  things that help shape the direction of the school.

This will be my last time as a Trustee as I’ll be moving on at the next ‘mid-cycle’ elections (Houghton Valley has just moved to staggered elections every 18 months), so look out for a space to become a Trustee in a few months!

Principal – Raewyn Watson

Raewyn 2016a
As a parent of three daughters, all adults now, I have also been through the school system as a parent.

I understand the importance of an effective Board of Trustees and enjoy working in a team to continually improve and enhance the school for the benefit of the children and staff who work with them.

As the Principal of Houghton Valley School I am automatically a member of the Board of Trustees. It’s my job to manage the school’s day-to-day administration and ensure the school is managed effectively according to the strategic direction and policies set by the Board. We work together to set the strategic direction of the school and I work out how to get us there. Together, our most important focus is enhancing student achievement.

Staff Trustee – Jos Abernethy


Kia ora Koutou, ko Jos taku ingoa.

I was born in the Netherlands and moved to New Zealand almost 30 years ago. My husband Andrew is a New Zealander and we have three children, aged 20, 19 and 17.

Outside of work I enjoy the outdoor life. My interests include yoga, walking, tramping, fishing, and travel.

From 1990 – 92 I trained as a teacher at Wellington College of Education and worked as a classroom teacher at Lyall Bay School for 2 ½ years.  I then took a break to raise my children. When my youngest child started at school I decided to return to work and stay involved in education.

I have been involved with the school for the last 10 years, as a parent, teacher aide, reading recovery teacher and for the last few years as a permanent reliever.

I love working at this school because we have a fantastic environment, a great community, great staff and above all else awesome children with inquiring minds.

I see myself as a lifelong learner, always taking the opportunity to learn from the latest research and philosophy in the teaching profession and implementing it into my teaching practice.