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Our History

For over 30 years, the Seabrook McKenzie Centre has proudly provided life changing assistanceto people with specific learning difficulties.  The Centre exists because Jean Seabrook and Sir Roy McKenzie  took action to establish a service to provide the extra help they saw  missing in mainstream education.  Although learning needs are becoming more widely recognised, the Centre continues to be in demand. It has continued to expand as more funding is provided.  Quality professional services are ensured to into the future, to meet individual learning needs.  

Early 70's



Jean Seabrook retired from her position at Teachers’ College, aware that the needs of children with specific learning difficulties are not being met within the education system or special education.

SPELD Association established

Jean Seabrook is one of the founding members of the SPELD Association established to lobby Government and to support families of people with Learning Disabilities.

SPELD NZ Centre opened in Christchurch

Dr Seabrook and Mary Cameron Lewis established the SPELD NZ Centre in Christchurch in McKenzie House, an old Merivale villa acquired with the support of the SPELD patron, Sir Roy McKenzie and the Roy McKenzie Foundation. Sir Roy also gifts a substantial number of Rangitira shares.


NZQA registration grained

In August 1995, the Seabrook McKenzie Centre gains registration from NZ Qualifications Authority as a private training establishment under the provisions of the Education Act 1989.


Centre moves to new premises and multi-disciplinary team established

In 1996,  the Centre self funded moving to larger premises. Additional support was provided by the Community Trust to setup a larger multi-disciplinary team including occupational therapy and a speech language therapist.  The team was established due to the difficulty securing these types of services for children desperately needing them.  

Whilst occupational therapy was made available at the time, limited funding meant an 18 month waiting list for those in need.


The income from the shares enables the Centre to develop and maintain professional services for students with SLD.  New developments are assisted by regular grants from the J.R. McKenzie Trust and the Roy McKenzie Foundation as well as personal donations from Sir Roy who maintains a close interest in the work of the Centre.


Jean Seabrook Memorial School opens full time 

The new school was sparked by frequent requests from parents for a full time service for their children with severe SLD who are not coping emotionally or academically in the mainstream schools Opening  required of years of planning to ensure need could be suitability be met 

Temporary move for earthquake repairs 

The 2010 and 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes caused some damage to the centre.  Finally in 2015 repairs were able to be carried out requiring the Centre to temporarily relocate to the former Richmond School for many months. In 2016 the Centre moved back to newly repaired premises.


Anne Stercq retired after over 25 years service

 Anne Stercq retired as the Centre Clinical Director following over 25 years in the position. She was awarded the Christchurch Civic Award for Services to Special Education.


Jean Seabrook Memorial School goes into recess to be replaced by Small Group teaching. 


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