More Hawke's Bay children are under the corporate care of listed early-childhood education company Evolve Education Group, after it bought four centres from Sherie Bartley and John Maxted. The firm has purchased Havelock North Kindergarten, Havelock North Baby and Child, Havelock North Parent and Child and Taradale Parent and Child.

Auckland-based Evolve now owns nine Hawke's Bay centres. Set up in May last year by Greg Kern and Russell Daly of Australia-based Kern Group, it raised $132.3 million in a NZX share market float to fund New Zealand acquisitions.

It promptly purchased Hawke's Bay-based national in-home child carer Porse Group and childcare chain Lollipops Educare, which has two Hawke's Bay centres. Hastings' Rascals' two divisions were also purchased.

Evolve's letter to parents said it had a "strong desire" to work with existing staff. Chief operating officer David Smith said its Hawke's Bay centres had "extraordinary staff".


"We feel quite lucky - we have a large pool of highly-qualified teachers," he said.

Parent and Child and Baby and Child were a concept, which he was considering rolling out to other centres.

Parents choose their level of engagement with activities organised and managed by qualified staff.

"I spent the best part of five hours at the centre observing and from what I saw the children were so content and relaxed, regardless of age.

"I'm not suggesting that doesn't happen in other centres, but I was really impressed. It may be a model for us to consider elsewhere.

"I spoke to a lot of the parents and they were so engaged with their children and they seemed extremely content.

"It is an interesting model and it certainly isn't the norm."

Mr Smith said yard presentation at Havelock North Parent and Child would soon undergo a "major upgrade".


"When I was there about four weeks ago we flagged there were a couple of things we could do to actually improve the whole image of the centre, which is one of our focuses," he said.

In a letter to parents, Ms Bartley said she was retiring from the industry.

Jenny Yule, co-founder of Evolve's major Hawke's Bay purchase, Porse Education & Training, has remained as CEO.

It is the country's largest provider of in-home childcare, education and training.

Starting from a programme to guide early childhood students undertaking a course in family homes, Porse is New Zealand's largest and longest serving home-based early childhood education training provider with more than a third of the home-based market.

When purchased it will provide care and education for nearly 6000 children, working with more than 4000 families, 2000 educators and nearly 4000 students in New Zealand.


It has 240 staff working in 38 Community Teams across the country, supported by its national office in Hawke's Bay.

Ms Yule said its philosophy, culture and values would "continue to be nurtured and protected".

"Our intent to grow healthy babies and children would stay the same and with better collaboration and support from Evolve Education we could take our vision to new heights.

"It is not the source from which the funds are derived, but the purpose to which they are to be applied, that makes a difference."