Dr Helen May is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She trained as a primary school teacher in the mid-1960s and in her early career taught 5-6 year olds. Later, when she had her own children she worked in childcare and for five years was the Coordinator of the Victoria University crèche. In 1987 she began work in teacher education at Hamilton Teachers' College and later the University of Waikato. During the early 1990s she worked with Margaret Carr on the development of Te Whaariki, the first national curriculum guidelines for New Zealand. In 1995 she was appointed to the first New Zealand professorial Chair in Early Childhood Education at Victoria University Wellington. In 2005, she was appointed as Professor of Education and Head of Faculty of Education at the University of Otago, and from 2007-2011 was the Dean of the University of Otago College of Education. During 2015-19 she was a Deputy Moderator for the PBRF evaluation process.
Helen May retired in 2016 and was appointed an Emeritus Professor and is currently based in Wellington. In 2018 and 2019 Helen was on the judging panel for the Prime Minister’s Teaching Excellence awards. She has spoken and published widely in the field of early childhood curriculum and the history and policy of early years education.