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About Us

The Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (previous know as Adult Literacy Rural Trust) provides training in literacy for isolated rural adults and teenagers. The Trust has operated from  premises in Port Waikato since August 2011. Our volunteer coaches work with a student from 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes a day, using phone, mail, fax and video-conference. Students are able to access our online practice software if they have access to a computer with internet or can get to a library computer. The Trust runs school holiday Catchup Literacy Camps for high school students who want to improve their literacy skills.

Our Trustees

Richard Winch – Chairperson

Richard Winch - Chairperson

Respected businessman with particular success in Information Technology management and in business process troubleshooting, and project recovery, especially in the IT sector. Has worked for IBM, Baycorp, Ford (US), Telstra and World Pay, amongst others. He is a founding trustee.


Barry O’Donnell – Treasurer

University Degree in Commerce. Qualified as an Accountant. Accountant with Deloittes in England for 3 years, Finance manager in Middle East for 5 years, Accountant/Company Secretary in NZ for 4 years. Group GM Administration for NZ Dairy Group for 15 years – heavily involved in industry restructure. Director of Shareholder Services for Fonterra for 3 years, including responsibility for the tanker fleet, managing 1750 staff. Consulting work mostly in the dairy industry with assignments having been in NZ, Australia, USA, Chile and Russia. Barry joined the Trust in October 2015.

Josephine Poland – Secretary

Active in adult literacy since 1994, previously manager of Auckland Adult Literacy Inc, which grew from one center to four centers under her management (2000 – 2007). Was a Literacy Aotearoa national tutor trainer from 2000 to 2006, but training and supervising tutors in the Auckland area from 1997. Qualified NZQA assessor and moderator, she has a BA in Education, Psychology and Computer Science, and a graduate diploma in Language Teaching to Adults.  She is a founding trustee of the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust.

Josephine is also the manager of the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust.



Vijay Satyanand

Retired from the Board in 2018 but is continuing as an advisor to the Trust. Consultant. Vijay brings a wealth of experience from the areas of strategic planning, logistics, event management, group facilitation & mediation. He has a deep regard for the work that is carried out by the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust and is committed to the Trust’s success. Vijay was a founding Trustee & the first Chairperson. Vijay is the brother of Arnand Satyanand, a past governor general, and brings the same enthusiasm, skill and integrity with him.

Our Staff

Jo Poland, Ngareta Wairepo, Jasmine Piacun and Miriama Ualesi  –  Winter 2020

Manager: Jo Poland
Executive Assistant: Ngareta Wairepo
Community Coordinator: Miriama Ualesi
Volunteer Support Coordinator: Jasmine Piacun
Student Coach Coordinator: Joanna Hayman
Youth Literacy Project Manager: Aroha Kukutai
Youth Literacy Lead Tutor: Tim Fisher
Accounts Administrator: Byambaa Hill


Our Story

The Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust started at a kitchen table in Port Waikato.  In 2011 Josephine Poland, one of the trustees, was asked by a local Port Waikato woman if she would help her with her literacy. Three months (and, in terms of her progress, the equivalent of 3 years of school) later, she surprised Jo by reading the instructions on some software they were about to try. Her comment was, ‘Yeah! I know! I read things now – because I CAN.’

Spurred on by this, Josephine, Vijay Satyanand and Richard Winch started the Trust (initially called the Adult Literacy Trust) in August of 2011, recognising the unmet need for daily literacy lessons for adults living in isolated rural areas was

  • not simply a local phenomenon, but a nationwide issue
  • and, as such, needed a concerted, nationwide effort to address it.

To guide development of the new organisation Jo became manager, prepared to fill this role in a voluntary capacity for the first few years (which she did from 2011 till 2015) and the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust shifted from her kitchen table to an office in the garage.

She was supported in this by a talented and very experienced advisory group: Peter Bright, Jenny Butler and Pat Hanning, all working on a voluntary basis.

The Trust has found video-conferencing methods a highly effective medium for teaching literacy. It is also fun for both tutors and learners. It is the only way we can train our volunteer coaches, who live all around NZ (two are even living overseas). However, we have also learned that often mail and phone are our best technologies.

With more and more students now having smartphones we are sometimes able to use those – the student can take a photo of their writing and the volunteer coach can share reading material by Zoom. Nonetheless most students cannot afford data and, because the Trust struggles to pay operating costs, it can only pay for student data when donations are received specifically for this.

In 2018 the Trust started working with teenagers, as an adult-literacy-prevention programme. In 2020 the decision was made to give working with teenagers much greater emphasis.

Our Sponsors