The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring the school complies with all legal directives made by the government and the Ministry of Education. This is done by ensuring we have robust policies and procedures in place. 

There is a clearly documented line between board work and management work. Boards of trustees govern (oversee management) and principals manage the school. It is not the role of the Board of Trustees to be involved in the day-to-day operation of the school, this is the responsibility of the principal and the school staff.

Board work is primarily about governance of the school. Governance involves setting strategic direction through our vision, core values and strategic goals. Core work of the board includes setting targets and tracking student progress.

This also includes regular review of curriculum areas. The board monitors financial expenditure of the school and sets a yearly budget. We also establish long term property plans and prioritize property projects with allocated funds.


Dr Tom Varghese  -  Presiding Member (Board Chair)

Tom Varghese, has a diverse professional background, initially qualifying and working as an orthodontist before moving into the business and governance side of healthcare. With extensive experience in academia, clinical practice and healthcare management, Tom has held several leadership roles across the health sector. He currently serves as Board Chair for St Mary's Catholic School demonstrating his ongoing commitment to educational governance. He also serves as a Board Trustee for the Men’s Health Trust New Zealand, and is an Elected Board Member of the Digital Health Association New Zealand. Raised in Dubai and relocating to New Zealand in 2013, Tom, alongside his wife Sandhya, is a parent to two children, with their daughter attending Year 4 at St Mary's. This personal connection to the school enriches his role on the Board, blending professional expertise with a genuine stake in the community's educational outcomes.

Audrey Kippen - Principal

Mrs Audrey Kippen is the proud mother of Dylan and Eryn; and along with her husband, Renay is a member of the St Mary's, Papakura parish community. 

Audrey has worked in education since 1991, as a teacher and since 2003 as a school leader. Her education career spans 3 countries and school curricula, having worked as a teacher and school leader in South Africa and New Zealand, as well as a principal in Doha, Qatar in 2017, after which she took up the role of deputy principal at St Mary's Papakura. She was appointed as our tumuaki/principal in 2020.

Audrey's mission is to bring children to an encounter with Christ, supporting their faith journey. As an educator, she is passionate about engaging children in authentic education, which is relevant to their life's purpose and which harnesses their cultural capital. She values strong, caring learning relationships and works hard to achieve and maintain excellence in educational outcomes, sharing this kaupapa with parents and communities. It is her pleasure and privilege to lead our school.

Nathan Williams - Deputy Presiding Member

Nathan Williams is a proud parent to two boys, who both happily attend St Mary’s. 

Originally from the UK, in 2017 Nathan made the permanent move to New Zealand with his family, including his Kiwi wife Alana who currently serves on the PTFA at St Mary's. Nathan is a CIMA-qualified Chartered Accountant by trade, and currently works as the Financial Controller for Worldline, a global payment technology company. Professionally Nathan has a lot of experience of dealing with Boards, and also has a passion for ensuring that young people get every opportunity to achieve their dreams through displaying a solid work ethic and positive attitude. Governance is a key part of any organisation, and Nathan strongly believes that his strong professional skillset, drive and passion to ensure that the next generation of leaders get given excellent opportunities in life adds considerable value to the Board of Trustees

Father Mathew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil - Bishop's Representative (Parish Priest)

I am a missionary priest ordained in 1992 for the Salesians of Don Bosco, East Africa Province, and now incardinated into the Diocese of Auckland. Since 2009vNew Zealand is my home. I love my vocation as a priest to serve the people of God and to grow in holiness. I am a trained teacher and worked many years in seminaries and educational institutions both as a teacher/tutor and principal. I enjoy long walks, climbing mountains and hills besides the demands of my priestly life. It is a joy to be on the Board of St Mary’s Catholic School and contribute towards the integral formation of the young people of our school. Accompanying young people on their journey of life is something that I always cherished.

Chris Butler - Bishop's Representative

My name is Chris Butler. 

I am a third term board member and Bishop’s Representative on the Board of Trustees. Over this time I have sat on both the school property and Catholic character committees. I am a former pupil of St Mary's Primary School, Papakura; an active member of the local parish; and a parent to three children who have attended the school – one of whom is currently enrolled in year 4.

I am an urban designer by profession with master’s degrees in both town planning and urban design. For the past 18 years I have worked across both the public and private sectors specialising in master planning, structure planning, design review /guidance, and designing for safer environments. I am currently a team leader of urban design at Auckland Council.

Outside of my job, I also serve as Chairman and Vice President of Ardmore Marist Rugby Club.

Alannah Vatau - Bishop's Representative

Talofa lava,

I am a mother of 3 children, 2 have attended St Marys and the 3rd is on his way.  My husband and I are first generation Samoan New Zealanders, both born and raised here in South Auckland and have lived in Papakura for the past 10 years. 

I’ve graduated with an AUT BHSc Psychology and am currently in part time Postgraduate study with University of Auckland. I am currently employed full time with Lifeline Aotearoa as a National Supervisor, supervising our Mental Health Support and Counselling Service (Lifeline, Tautoko and Parentline, etc). I have various other work experiences in Early Childhood Education, Secondary School Career Support, Aged Care and Recruitment. 

Tautua nei mo se manuia a taeao – Serve now for a better tomorrow. 

I am honoured to be of service to our St Mary's School and Parish as a Bishops Appointee this year. I am passionate about ensuring all of our children and families are heard and supported in all areas of their learning journey.

Patrick Buckley - Bishop's Representative

Patrick is a father of three with two children at St Mary's and is a member of the ST Mary's, Papakura parish community. He was a previous student at the school, and is seeking to contribute to its ongoing success. He is a professional town planner specialising in transport and was the previous chair of the St Mary's Parent Teacher and Friend Association. Patrick is also a member of the establishment board for St Ignatius of Loyola Catholic College in Drury and is looking forward to working on the St Mary's Board of Trustees. 

Viviane Walker - Parent Representative

Marhaba everyone! 

My name is Viviane Walker and I feel fortunate to be able to serve on the St Mary's Board of Trustees.  My son is currently in Year 5 and is absolutely loving his time at St Mary's.  My daughter used to attend St Mary's but is now a Year 9 foundation student at St Ignatius of Loyola. 

When I immigrated to New Zealand in 1989 with my family from Lebanon, I started my NZ schooling at St Mary's, Papakura and have had strong ties to our school ever since.  

St Mary's continues to excel as a school, making it a very sought after school in South Auckland.  My vision for St Mary's is to bring innovative solutions to the school board, focusing on creating a challenging and supportive classroom environment for

teachers and students.

Nekoda Atiga-Bridger - Parent Representative

Kia ora, 

Ko Taupiri tōku maunga,

Ko Waikato tōku awa,

Ko Ngāti Tāhinga tōku hapu,

Ko Waikato-Tainui tōku iwi

Ko Nekoda Atiga-Bridger tōku ingoa

My name is Nekoda Atiga-Bridger, and I am a parent elected member of the Board of Trustees at St Mary's Catholic School, Papakura. I work as a Senior Practice Advisor at the Department of Corrections Aotearoa, and have previously worked in Community Corrections and in the Family Court with the Ministry of Justice. My son attends St Mary's Catholic School and we enjoy keeping active, and spending quality time with whānau at the beach or indoors playing board games. In everything I do, I seek to achieve improved outcomes for all, and as a member of the Board of Trustees I am able to make a small contribution to the success of all our students and wider school community.

Pamela Venu - Parent Representative

Pam is a dedicated and engaged member of our school community, currently serving on the Board of Trustees. As a mother of two boys, one already attending our school and the other set to start later in the year, Pam brings a unique and personal perspective to her role.

With a long-established career in the finance industry, Pam brings a wealth of expertise to the table. Her financial acumen and strategic thinking make her an invaluable asset to the Board, contributing to sound decision-making and fiscal responsibility.

Beyond her professional achievements, Pam is deeply passionate about giving back to the community. Her commitment to education and the well-being of our students is evident in her active involvement in various school initiatives. Pam's dedication to fostering a positive and enriching learning environment for all students is a testament to her genuine concern for the welfare of the school community.

Tanya Rowe - Staff representative

I am a proud mum of three lovely children, spanning across kindy, St Mary's and university. I am from South Africa but have made New Zealand my home, along with my Kiwi husband. It has been a joy of mine to have always taught in Catholic schools and I absolutely love it here at St Mary's. My passion is with our Juniors and ensuring they develop a love of learning to set them up for future success.  

Board Meetings

Board meetings convene every 3rd Thursday of the month at 6pm in the staff room, unless otherwise arranged. Community members are welcome to attend.

Board Meeting Minutes

Te Whakangārahu Ngātahi | Planning Together 

This page will provide access to our School Charter, Strategic Plan, Annual Plan and our most up to date Annual Financial Report.

Strategic Plan

Under the Education and Training Act 2020, the government have made changes to how schools plan and report that will be implemented in 2024. The framework, which came into effect on 1 January 2023, is currently being introduced to school leaders and boards.

Te Whakangārahu Ngātahi | Planning Together is designed to help:

Te Whakangārahu Ngātahi│Planning Together requires the board to develop:

[1] Your board’s first strategic plan will be for a timeframe of 2 years (1 January 2024-31 December 2025) to align the strategic planning cycle with board triennial elections. 


ERO report

Our most recent ERO Profile report was released in  2022.   The full report can be found here.

Annual Report

It is a Ministry requirement to have the previous years annual financial report from the auditor on the school website.  See ours below.

Strategic Plan

Implementation Plan

Contacting the Board

Members of the Board can be contacted via email to

Annual Audited Accounts



From time to time the Board, Staff and School Community review policies and procedures. This gives all stakeholders the opportunity to have a say in how certain aspects of the school and currculum are managed. 

When required to do so, you will be notified in the newsletter of which policy we are reviewing and you can access the SchoolDocs website and review the policy and leave comment where appropriate.

Login  : stmaryspapakura

Community password - learnprayserve

Board Documents

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA)

NZSTA provides governance and employment advice and support to help boards do the very best for their students and communities. 

NZSTA is contracted by the ministry to support boards in the undertaking of their roles and responsibilities. NZSTA provides practical support, advice, resources and professional development opportunities to help boards govern and manage their schools.