About Us

Robyn Willis – Publisher

Robyn is a parent who had three young children at home when she published the first issue of Family Times in 1996 in Christchurch. A physical education teacher at secondary and tertiary level, she also has a strong entrepreneurial streak and has assisted with the set-up and development of several businesses. At that time she was looking for an innovative business idea, something that would allow time for her top priorities: family, friends, keeping fit and healthy, and having fun!

Since that first issue in 1996, Robyn has remained hands-on at the helm of Family Times (published by Family Publishers (NZ) under which she is the sole trader) as it has developed and diversified.

Distribution grew to include Dunedin in 1999, Wellington in 2000 and Auckland in 2005. In the early days, Robyn was “it” with graphic work being outsourced. Now there are 17 mainly part-timers in the team – most parents – who work either from their own homes, in other locations, or at the “head home” in Christchurch.

What hasn’t changed is the core sense of family. Every day the Christchurch team settles in for work at the publisher’s home. They arrive (Nicky with Polly her dog in tow) with work agendas foremost in their minds … well no, in all honesty the first thing on their minds is more likely whether somebody’s got the coffee on! And sometimes, when teacher-only days come around or someone’s working after school pick-up time, their youngsters might be there too: comfy on a sofa reading or watching videos, or earning pocket money by sticking stamps on envelopes!

The sense of belonging to a small united “family” team also extends beyond Christchurch to those who are working elsewhere, as does the genuine, shared pride in making each issue of Family Times better than the last.


Vanessa O’Brien – Editor

Vanessa is a freelance journalist, photographer, editor, and proud Cantabrian.

In 2006 she graduated from University of Canterbury with an undergraduate degree in political science and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. She worked as a journalist and photographer for Mainland Press in Christchurch and went on to become editor of a local publication for that company.

In 2009 she embarked on a freelance career that has seen her travel and report from the Middle East, while also staying grounded as the Family Times editor.

Raelyn Hay – Office manager

Raelyn was a full-time mum to her two boys for eight years before joining Family Times in 2006. She works part-time, and loves the friendly work environment.

Whether it’s playing, coaching or supporting, Raelyn says sports is a main focus for her family.

She loves travelling overseas but reckons that come summer, there’s nowhere better than Central Otago for her family’s traditional camping holiday.


Nicky Barnett – Media Executive

Nicky is joie de vivre personified: her love of life covers a broad swath from tramping to city life – the cafes, restaurants, theatre and retail therapy (she has a heady penchant for gorgeous shoes!)

But it’s spending time with friends and family, especially her teenage daughter, that’s tops in her “love to do” ratings.

In her quiet time she often picks up on her hobby of ceramic restoration and enjoys a good read.


Gail Cropp

Gail is married with two teenage daughters and has lived in Christchurch for six years since relocating from the North Island. She started her career in a legal office but moved into office administration and management, which she vastly enjoyed for many years. Gail enjoys running (just having completed her first half marathon), travelling and spending time with her family.


Lynda Strowger

Lynda is kept busy with two young boys aged 7 and 8. Most weekends she can be found at either the club cricket grounds or rugby club with her boys, and in her spare time she enjoys camping, reading and cooking. Lynda worked in sales and account management within the outdoor advertising market for 12-years prior to joining Family Times. One of the things she loves about working at Family Times is that her co-workers are busy mothers too, but they’re also hugely passionate about and committed to the publication.


Amy Pawson

Amy is married with four daughters and lives in North Canterbury. She recently finished a Bachelor of Business Studies with a major in marketing and a minor in management from Massey University. She’s also a qualified beauty therapist. Amy enjoys spending time with her family and friends and being involved in the school PTA. In her spare time she loves to read and paint.


Corrin Prebble – executive assistant

Corrin is an ex-primary and preschool teacher with previous media and clerical experience in the radio industry. She says she’s blessed to have two wonderful children, aged 5 and 11-years, and enjoys lots of quality time with them. Her part-time hours at Family Times work perfectly for her, as she often supports their learning at home.Corrin loves the atmosphere at Family Times, and in her spare time she enjoys walking with friends, reading, gardening, art and baking with her kids.