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Gifted NEX - Connecting Teachers with Teachers

Gifted NEX Networks of Expertise are a Professional Learning and Development (PLD) strategy employed by the Ministry of Education to deliver support for teachers and kaiako via subject associations and peer-to-peer networks. They complement the centrally funded PLD model but take a ‘by teachers, for teachers’ approach, encouraging collaboration and sharing of expertise.


Gifted NEX supports principals, management, teachers, Learning Support Coordinators, GaTE Coordinators, RTLB and SENCO by providing access to professional expertise, growing local networks, nurturing local leadership and developing professional pathways.

What does Gifted NEX offer?

What are the membership benefits?

Who are the Gifted Nex team?

Interested in current events and opportunities?

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What doed Gifted NEX offer?

Moving forward Gifted NEX plans to offer support to the Network in four areas:


Updates and newsletters with links to events, opportunities, people and resources


Face to face regional meetings, links across the sector to other educators

Knowledge Growth

Self-guided online mini-modules and discussion starters


Access to support and guidance to develop a career in gifted education

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What are the membership benefits?


Being a member of Gifted NEX includes some of the following:

  • Access to face to face and/or online hui 2-3 times per year

  • Access to posters and discussion cards

  • Access to self-guided online mini-modules

  • Once a term national newsletter

  • Access to a calendar of professional learning activities and opportunities

  • Opportunity to share practice and/or research
    Networking opportunities to connect with other educators in the gifted education space
    Forum to ask questions

  • Reduced cost to attend online AAEGT events (Australian Association for the Education of the GIfted and Talented


The Network also provides advocacy and representation at a national level for gifted learners and their educators in general.


Meet the team


Dr Ann Easter and Deb Walker are the Delivery Team currently coordinating Gifted NEX. Ann is the NZCGE Consultancy Manager and has vast experience in gifted education including leading nationwide Ministry of Education contracts. Deb was the former CEO of NZCGE and is currently delivering the Massey University Specialist Teaching qualification as well as supporting the delivery of this network. Both educators have been involved in the Network in the first iteration and are pleased to be continuing with the work through this new contract.

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Get to know Dr Ann Easter


What first got you into gifted education?
Like many people working in this area, my interest in gifted education was sparked by my own experiences in parenting a gifted child and advocating for their needs to be met.

What do you love about working with gifted kids?
I love the quirky sense of humour that many gifted kids have and their curiosity about the world… as a teacher, it certainly keeps you on your toes!

Tell us about a gifted kid who stands out for you and how you were able to support them?

I have supported a number of young gifted people who were becoming disengaged from learning and at risk of dropping out of school entirely, by working with their parents/whānau and teachers to better understand what academic acceleration looks like in practice… it was a real game-changer for these kids!

What is the quirkiest gifted kid passion you can recall?

A six-year-old student who knew everything that had ever been written about flowering cactus plants!


What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding gifted kids?

Encourage persistence, rather than perfection, and help them to realise that mistakes are simply new learning opportunities.

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Get to know Deb Walker

What first got you into gifted education?
The passion of a philanthropist, Christine Fernyhough, who established a programme to support gifted children in low socio-economic communities. She sold it to me through her passion for their potential and I’ve never looked back.  

What do you love about working with gifted kids?
Their passion, humour, diverse interests, intensities, creativity and hunger for learning. No two days are the same - actually neither are any two minutes!

Tell us about a gifted kid who stands out for you and how you were able to support them?

Where to start - there are SO many! Hard to mention just one but over my time teaching in a specialist withdrawal programme I really can’t emphasise enough the value of like-minds together, being able to provide a safe place, a supported space and a cohort of connections that proved life-changing for many gifted learners.

What is the quirkiest gifted kid passion you can recall?

I once met a young gifted kid who workshopped for the MindPlus programme as Napoléon Bonaparte. All of his responses were totally in character and correct - I Google checked later!!!


What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding gifted kids?

Accept them for who they are and support them by accepting their reality as your starting place.


Current Regional Facilitators

Whangarei, Northland: Emma Scobie Jennings

Auckland Central: Tania Plaisier

Auckland West: Sylvie Howell

Franklin/Papakura: Melissa Powell

Auckland South: Charlene Barnett

Hamilton: Jodie Kennedy

Rotorua: Sue Bufton

Taupo: Carrie van der Zwaag

Gisborne: Sunny Bush

Palmerston North: Suzanne Smith, Jo Dean

Wellington: Amanda Kitiona, Ruth Olds

Christchurch: Lizzie Wilson, Cristy Yonetani, Susannah Debenham

Ashburton: Melanie Simons

Invercargill: Peter Forde, Marlene Campbell

Reference Panel - We need YOU!

To ensure a collaborative approach to support offered and to continue in the spirit of a shared network, GIfted NEX would like to develop a small panel to be involved in recommendations and feedback for the community moving forward.  The aim is to have diverse representation across the network and ensure multiple voices and perspectives are heard as the network grows and develops.


Participation would involve quarterly Zoom meetings, feedback on ideas and some discussions with other network members. 

Expressions of interest in participating in this role can be emailed to before August 31st, 2021.


Events, Conferences and Opportunities

31 July- 9 August: Virtual World Conference Gifted and Talented

1st August, MOE Awards for Learners open

2nd August, Study Awards for Teachers open

19th August, GiftedNEX Regional Meetings 4-5pm - Postponed until further notice

28th October, Gifted NEX Online meeting

1st September, MOE Awards for Teachers open

6th October, Gifted NEX Online Symposium

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Gifted NEX Regional Network Meetings

Due to COVID Level 4 we have decided to POSTPONE the Gifted NEX regional network meetings until we see how events unfold.
We will be holding regional network meetings across Aotearoa New Zealand. The meetings for all regions will be held in Term 3.

Focus: “Who’s who and What's what in Gifted Education?”
Join your local facilitator in this introductory presentation to get clarity around national organisations, sites for resources, PLD opportunities in general and key people involved in gifted education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Additionally, there will be a shortened online version on Thursday 28th October, 4:00-4:45pm, for people in regions where a face-to-face option is not being offered. Please register here.

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Gifted NEX Online Symposium

What do Gifted Learners really need to thrive?

Join our FREE Gifted NEX Online Symposium to find out! Wednesday, 6 October - 8:45am-12:30pm


Due to the current uncertainty around Covid-19, the national TRCC/Gifted NEX Conference, which was to have been held in Wellington on 5-6 October 2021, has been CANCELLED.


We are now delighted to be presenting a FREE online Symposium targeted at Gifted NEX members but extended to supporters of gifted learners. New Zealand’s leading education provokers and disrupters - Associate Professor Melinda Webber, Professor Welby Ings and Professor Tracy Riley - will share stories, research, wisdom and challenges, with a greeting from Associate Minister of Education Hon Jan Tinetti.


Experience inspiring world-class learning at a place of your choice and tune in to the sessions that interest you most. 

Gifted NEX Online Symposium
Keynote Speakers

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Associate Professor 
Melinda Webber,
University of Auckland

Kia tū rangatira ai: Gifted Māori student learning, succeeding and thriving at school


What was your favourite year at school and why?

 I really enjoyed Form 7 – I was hungry for adulthood, some sort of autonomy, and university life. I attended a secondary school that trusted its students to drive their own learning. I now realise how self-motivated I was and that I still thrive in high-trust learning/working environments.

Who is the oldest childhood friend you have, where are they now and what do they do?

Nicola  – we have been best friends since Form 4 at Western Heights High School. While we only see each other 3-4 times a year - we can generally sense when we need each other’s company/advice/aroha. Nicola was a police officer but now makes amazing television programmes and is in demand as a producer/director. She is the smartest, funniest and most creative person I know.

Who was a life changing mentor for you and why?

Te Ururoa Flavell has been an excellent mentor for me – he has taught me to be unwavering in my commitment to amplifying Māori language, cultural ways and knowledge. He is completely himself, unapologetically Māori, whānau/iwi-centric and a big picture thinker. He taught me what it means to be in service of your iwi. He is the best teacher I know.


Professor Welby Ings,
Auckland University of Technology

Alternative intelligences: Beyond the gods of literacy and numeracy


What was your favourite year at school and why? It was my last year at Te Awamutu College before I got expelled. I was able to choose subjects that really challenged my creativity and I discovered the passion of hanging out with ideas. Hanging out with ideas of course was also the well spring that resulted in actions that got me tossed out, but ideas suddenly weren't coming from prescribed textbooks anymore. I was able to meet real artists (if I wagged school and drank coffee in the back of a wee shop called Potpourri that sold the work of artists like Mary MacIntyre, Jan Lucas, and Michael Smither). Potpourri back in the day, was the height of civilisation on Alexander Street. At that time, I also came across publications like the Little Red School Book, Summerhill and Teaching as a Subversive Activity - and the music of musicians like Steel Eye Span and Jethro Tull.


Who is the oldest childhood friend you have, where are they now and what do they do? This sounds terrible, but I don’t have a childhood friend. Where I grew up it was a bit hard to fit in and in truth, school was tortious for a gay kid in the 1970s. I was just glad to get the hell out of there. My most influential friend was probably Bill Packard who I met on the first day at Hamilton Teachers College. He came from quite a cultured family and their thinking helped me to see that there were alternative doors in the world. He showed me how to blend rational thinking with compassion. I don't know where Bill is now. His daughter was due to be in a class I was down to teach the year after I left secondary teaching.

Who was a life changing mentor for you and why?  I fell in love with Miss Barrie in Form 5. She showed me how to think with diagrams and she gave me the first clear indication that you didn’t have to become like other people. She was a quiet, but perfectly timed arm around my shoulder. She also caught me cheating in a test and instead of reprimanding me, she told me that she knew there was a better young man inside and we should agree to work with him. Years later when I read Portia’s speech from the Merchant of Venice, Miss Barrie came to personify the quality of mercy over the assumed ascendency of justice

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Professor Tracy Riley, Massey University

Grouping Gifted Learners: And why we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!

What was your favourite year at school and why?

 I loved 3rd grade – that is around year 3 in NZ. It was a year of change as my family moved mid-year to my parents’ home town. I had both sets of grandparents and many cousins who all attended the same school that our parents had attended. It was my first experience of public schooling and my teacher Mrs Jones was the most elegant woman I had ever met.

Who is the oldest childhood friend you have, where are they now and what do they do?

My family moved again a few years later – and my longest friendship dates to that move. Denise and I became friends in 8th grade. She still lives in Mississippi in the beautiful town of Natchez. Denise and I were in a gifted program together and share an interest in learning. She is an award winning biology teacher at a junior college.

Who was a life changing mentor for you and why?

Professor Frances Karnes was my master’s and doctoral supervisor at the University of Southern Mississippi, and she had a powerful influence on me. Frances taught me the importance of opening doors for others, being willing to take on leadership roles and the importance of service to the university as an academic – specifically within the context of gifted education. She also taught me about my own potential that she recognised in ways other teachers had not.

Contact us to find out more

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