About RATA

The Ark

“Your people allowed us to be ourselves; although you knew we were not qualified, you treated us like professional teachers.”

-Mia Carla, teacher Grade 4, The Ark, Cape Town, South Africa


In 2005 we learned about The Ark, a shelter in Cape Town, South Africa that provides lodging, education and employment skills for homeless persons and families, recovering addicts and other destitute individuals. Children in the shelter are taught by adults who are also residents of the Ark, who have no formal teacher training.


RATA is about bringing the spirit and training of NZ teachers to the neediest areas around the globe, allowing untrained teachers in impoverished areas to be trained and encouraged. Simple skills of teaching numeracy & literacy, demonstrating “how” to read to children and how to run a positive class by example are changing lives.The affected schools have dramatically increased their pass & retention rates, all attributed to the skilled training and resources provided by RATA.

  • 2005 – 2014: Capetown, South Africa – The Ark
  • 2008 – 2014; Ashiaman, Accra, Ghana – 3 schools, 450 students
  • 2009 – present: Northern India – 6 schools in foothills of Himalayas
  • 2011- present: Magugu, Tanzania – Joshua Foundation school in a remote area

Board of Trustees

RATA’s Patron

Helen Bichan


Helen Bichan has been involved in many areas of support to New Zealanders mostly through the health sector. She was medical superintendent of Porirua Hospital and chief medical officer of the Wellington Area Health Board. In 1990 she was appointed to the Commonwealth Secretariat as Assistant Director of their Health Division. Currently she serves on the Inter-church Bioethics Council and the standing committee of the Uniting Churches of Aotearoa New Zealand. She is a life member of the Public Health Association. She is the mother of five and grandmother of nine.

Peter Thomas

B Ed (Hons) BD, MTH

Peter is the Director of Capernwray Bible School and Conference Centre based in Australia. He is also the Pacific Region representative on the International Board of Torchbearer Trust. His training is in education and he taught English and Religious Studies in England. Peter is married with two children.

Phil McCreery

Phil was educated at Victoria University and Christchurch College of Education. He began teaching at Tararua College and was promoted to Head of Department at Nelson College for Girls. In 1995 he was appointed as Deputy Principal of Waihi College before returning to Tararua College where he was Principal for 8 years. He is currently principal at Cambridge High School in the Waikato. He is married with 3 children.

Murray Smith

Murray is the Pastor of Bridges church based in Cambridge. He has run several successful business operations in both Auckland and the Waikato. Murray is an accomplished artist. As a pastor Murray has a real affinity with people and connects with community groups and organizations to help journey with those less privileged. Murray has recently visited Mozambique and knows first hand the issues that can pertain to working in Africa. He is also involved in running large scale events, his latest being “Christmas at the Lake” that was gifted to the people of Cambridge. Murray and his wife Michelle also ran the “Piece of New Zealand” promotion that gave away a million dollar house. They have 6 children.

Steve Horne

Bachelor of Teaching

Steve is a teacher at Hamilton Boys’ High School. He has experience in a variety of leadership positions in the Tertiary, Secondary and Primary sectors. Steve enjoys organising community service activities and leads a mentoring programme at his current school. Steve loves telling stories that inspire people. (His stories are often funny too!) He is married to Val and has three daughters and five grandchildren. Steve has worked with RATA on visits to South Africa , Ghana and India. He is a keen kayaker and swimmer and to a lesser degree a walker and cyclist. Steve believes that “caring is doing and going back to help people that help themselves” has the potential to change communities and local regions.

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