Since CORE was founded in 2003, we have contributed to and influenced learning in New Zealand and worldwide. Known for the strength of our strategic vision, design and development of framework and platforms, we are established and respected, with a reputation for quality and innovation across both English and Māori Medium education.

Our team are amongst the leaders in the field, committed to feeding the present and future of education in our country. For many years we have worked closely with the Ministry of Education and intimately with individual education providers, having also built valuable connections across the international education sector.



CORE Education began in 2003 as a charitable, not-for-profit company providing public good services for the education sector in New Zealand.

Our constitution reflects our company purpose to “advance education” by:

  • researching, applying and disseminating the benefits of new learning technology
  • developing innovative, creative, and effective e-learning environments
  • promoting the importance of research
  • assisting educational institutions and teachers to obtain better classroom resources
  • assisting educational institutions and teachers to understand technology.

The original concept for CORE Education (known from 2003–2005 as Ultralab South) began back in 1998 with discussions between current CORE executive directors Derek Wenmoth, Nick Billowes, the late Dr Vince Ham and Professor Stephen Heppell of Ultralab in the UK. These conversations fired a shared passion for transforming education forever – a lofty aim, but one that CORE continues today with its mission to push the boundaries of educational possibility.

Original plans focussed on the establishment of an Ultralab in the Southern Hemisphere (Ultralab South), with Prof. Heppel as one of the original directors and Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) the original shareholders.


ultralab logo

Ultralab South was formally established in March 2003 with Dr Vince Ham and Nick Billowes as the founding executive directors. Derek Wenmoth came on board as Director E-learning, seconded to work part-time at the Ministry of Education.

Ultralab South worked on a variety of Ministry of Education contracts, significantly designing and delivering the Ministry of Education’s Information Communication Technology Professional Development Strategy over a 10-year period. This hugely influential piece of strategic visioning, designing, and delivery developed the platform for all ICT professional development in New Zealand schools.

The Ministry of Education’s e-Fellows, T4T4T (a tertiary, professional development pilot programme), and the HITLAB Magic Book were among other projects developed and nurtured at that time.

original ultralab staff

Original Ultralab staff (left to right): Chris (Cam) Allot-MacPhee, Nick Billowes, Clare Burgess, Vince Ham, Gwenny Davis, Hemi Waerea, Sherry Chrisp, Lorraine Taylor, Carol Moffatt (Ministry of Education), Vaimu Fidow and Ann Trewern.


The first Navcon Conference was held in September 2004. It continues today under the name uLearn as New Zealand’s largest education conference. It has developed into New Zealand’s leading conference for learning and teaching – a hot-house of ideas and future thinking for teachers, by teachers. It is a key event in many schools’ professional development and learning calendars.

Reviews of New Zealand curricula

Major contracts were developed for the review of both the New Zealand Curriculum and the Māori medium curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. CORE has continued to work on iterations of these projects since that time and has been a key provider in the development of curriculum support and resources for New Zealand educators.


Ultralab South changed its name to CORE Education and a new board of directors was established. Ali Hughes joined CORE as General Manager. Derek Wenmoth moved from Wellington to work full-time from the Christchurch office.


CORE was awarded the ECE ICT Professional Learning Programme. This national pilot programme, initiated by the Ministry of Education, developed the innovative integration of ICT into the teaching and learning and administration of early childhood services.

ECE ICT PL was the first programme of its kind in early childhood education in New Zealand. CORE Education managed this project and provided professional learning support to centres.  


In May 2007 CORE relocated to the 7th floor of the NatColl House building on KIlmore Street, Christchurch. They shared this space with staff from MediaWorks till the earthquake in Feb 2011.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa was launched and CORE had a significant role in supporting its rollout across the Māori medium sector.  A number of Māori staff came to CORE from within the Māori medium sector. We continue to support Te Marautanga o Aotearoa professional learning nationally.

He Waka Eke Noa became Aotearoa’s first e-learning conference directed at engaging the Māori medium sector.  A large part of the conference was delivered in te reo Māori – this was the beginning of a long journey to help the Māori medium sector realise the potential of e-learning and digital technologies. We continue to maintain this sector engagement.


Staff retreat

CORE staff retreat, Akaroa July 2009


The eXeLearning Programme was awarded a Learning Impact Leadership Award and voted best content authoring software.

CORE Director, Derek Wenmoth was selected as a recipient of the George Lucas Educational Foundation Global Six Award.


On 4 September 2010, a 7.1 magnitude quake struck Christchurch. Despite the disruption, CORE held the largest and most successful uLearn Conference in the Christchurch Convention Centre & Town Hall in October that year. CORE still holds the record for the highest number of diners for a sit-down meal, with over 2,000 educators from around the world enjoying the conference dinner.

A significant shift in the professional development landscape in New Zealand was heralded with the establishment of several consortiums contracted to deliver the Ministry of Education’s professional learning and development contracts at the end of 2010.  CORE joined with Cognition Education, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, University of Waikato and the Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development to establish Te Toi Tupu – Leading Learning Network. This group works together to provide professional learning and development that enhances student outcomes and accelerates the progress of students previously under-served by the education system. It works across both English and Māori medium sectors.

CORE was honoured to be named as lead provider for all the MOE’s e-learning contracts. These included:

  • Blended eLearning 2011–2013

  • Learning with Digital Technologies 2014–2016

  • Enabling e-Learning Planning Framework.

These contracts have seen a large growth in the numbers of CORE staff, with staffing numbers increasing from 56 in June 2010 to 180 by June 2014.

By 2011 Te Toi Tupu also held a significant number of Māori medium contracts, working with large numbers of kura staff and kura networks.


champion canty 2010

Finalist in Champion Canterbury Awards

Second place for the best small-to-medium-sized workplace in the JRA Best Workplaces Awards


In February 2011 a massive earthquake devastated Christchurch and closed the CBD for more than 2 years. Fortunately CORE staff and families were not injured in the quakes. CORE lost access to its office in Kilmore Street and 12 months later NatColl House was demolished due to substantial earthquake damage. Over the following 4 years CORE offices in Christchurch moved through various temporary buildings until settling into new offices back in Kilmore Street in July 2015.

CORE’s first office space in Wellington opened at 16 Portland Crescent, Thorndon.


CORE made a formal expansion into Auckland with the opening of a small, shared office for our growing team in the region.

CORE purchased the successful LEARNZ Virtual Field Trips and employed the Heurisko staff to continue to lead this project.

CORE’s first Senior Leadership Team was established with the appointment of four senior managers, each with a portfolio of projects or areas of responsibility. In addition, CORE appointed two kaihautū Māori, responsible for the support and development of CORE’s Māori staff and for cultural awareness, tikanga, and te reo Māori across the company. This team work with the CORE executive team to lead and drive the vision for CORE.


Finalist for the best small-to-medium-sized workplace in the Kenexa Best Workplaces Awards


CORE held the13th Annual International Conference on Thinking in Wellington.

Sadly, in June 2013 we lost a founding father, Dr Vince Ham. With his passing, a mighty tōtara fell in the forest of Tāne.

CORE hosted a Modern Learning Expo in Christchurch to provide the community with information for the Education Renewal Programme in the region.  

Derek Wenmoth was invited to be a member of the 21st Century Learning and Digital Literacy Reference Group, led by Hon. Nikki Kaye, in recognition of the thought leadership role he has brought to the education sector. This group was charged with the task of developing a strategy for learning that enables schools to make the best of modern technologies.

With the closure of Learning Media CORE took on a range of projects in the content development market. These projects included Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) Channel Support Services, Technology Online, and Assessment Online.  CORE was fortunate to be able to take on a number of talented staff from Learning Media to support these projects.

KiwiLearners, an early years centre in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, opened. This partnership between CORE and Sun Global Services in India was developed to grow professional development and quality early years service provision in the Indian market.



Karen Spencer was announced as Inaugural ICET Asia-Pacific Senior e-Fellow


CORE purchased a building in Wellington to accommodate the growing team in the region.

CORE consultants undertook a review project for the Eastland Community Trust investigating options for potential investment in education, as an important precursor to the prosperity of the wider region. CORE Education's final report to the Eastland Community Trust, Gisborne – the Learning City: Possibilities for the future of secondary schooling and its relationship to the city’s growth and development, is being used by the trust to develop educational opportunities in the region.

The first Aotearoa New Zealand ‘Connected Educator Month ’ was launched in October 2014. This initiative brings a new approach to professional learning by combining knowledge, networking, community, and professional development together in one online space.


CORE’s Auckland offices opened in 2015 to accommodate the growing number of staff located in the city.

CORE relocated its Christchurch office to 144 Kilmore Street.

CORE ChCh Office 6960

CORE was awarded the contract to lead Te Ara Whītiki, the Connected Learning Advisory, on behalf of the Ministry of Education. This project aims to support New Zealand schools and kura to maximise the potential of ultrafast broadband, the managed network, and digital technologies to achieve better education outcomes.

CORE was awarded the contract to lead the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL) Programme in New Zealand. This international collaborative project, led by Michael Fullan, aims to enhance learning within schools by mobilising partnerships, innovation and technology. It works to change the role of teachers to that of activators of learning, designing learning experiences that build on learner strengths and needs and creating new knowledge using real-life problem solving. Starting with the Kahukura cluster in Christchurch, this programme is being rolled out across New Zealand.


CORE partnered with the University of Canterbury, which provides recognition for CORE’s Modern Learning Empower courses. These are now included in the university’s post-graduate course, Transforming Education in Canterbury. This arrangement recognises the quality and academic rigour of CORE’s empower courses.


Paula Eskett was announced as a Fellow for 2016 Institute of Open Leadership (IOL), held in Cape Town, South Africa.

CORE won two awards at the 2016 Copyright Education Awards:

  • Best Resource te reo Māori
  • Teachers Choice: Best Resource te reo Māori  

These were awarded to the Māori Medium team for their board game and app He kupu i Kore.