Our People

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Tania Johnson, Centre Manager

Kia Ora My name is Tania Johnson and I am the Centre Manager Of Active Explorers Central City

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?

As an ECE teacher we can support and nurture a child’s learning that will help them further on with their learning within the wider world. I enjoy seeing and being a part of how children see the world through their eyes and how they can adapt and not overthink. Building relationships with families that can help and support them through ages and stages with the knowledge that I know and learn over time.


How long have you been working in this sector?

 I have been in the sector nearly 20 years. I worked as a reliever for a while and then started study in my mid-thirties and qualified as an ECE teacher.

What do you love most about what you do?

 I really enjoy being a part of our children’s learning and how confident they become within themselves as they move through stages of their lives. I enjoy the relationships that are formed and nurtured with our families and how we are treated as family. I love knowing that when our children turn five that they are ready for their next journey


What are three things that make your centre special?

As Kaiako we are here to guide, support and nurture our tamariki from Te Moana (Nursery) through to Te Awa (2-3.4 years) then onto Te Maunga (3.4 – 5 years) in which they start their new learning journey to primary school.

What is your favourite time of the year at the centre, and why?

Summer and Christmas are my favourite times of the year. It is nice to catch up with family members that are meeting up for Christmas, that we don’t always see throughout the year and seeing the photos of family time. Seeing the children enjoying waterplay, the doors are open wide, light wind blowing, children looking happy and relaxed.

What is your philosophy in regards to ECE?

I believe that any child and family should have access to Early childhood centre and learning regardless of circumstances. Through establishing relationships, we can work alongside our families which then extends into our community. With having good practices, procedures and policies we can uphold a high standard of care.

What relevant qualifications do you have? I have a diploma in ECE

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Kayla Crawford, Teacher - Te Awa Room

What inspired me to be a teacher?

 From an early age I knew that I wanted to work with children, as a child I was heavily involved in the care routines of my younger siblings and loved every moment of it. I have always worked with children, and previously worked as a Nanny for four years, as much as I loved it, I wanted to take my profession to the next level, which is I decided to begin my Bachelors in Teaching. I have been working with children for 7 years now.


What do you love the most about what you do?

I love the close knitted community that comes with being an early childhood teacher, having positive and trusting relationships with not only the children, but their families/whanau, other teachers, and the wider community.

What are three things that made your centre special?

Our team, we have a great team here at Active Explorers that will go above and beyond to meet your needs. We are very friendly and love to make everyone feel welcome

We have a diverse range of not only families and whanau but our staff as well, here at Active Explorers which I think is unique and special. We have a world map to display the diversity of where all of our beautiful families come from.

Our centre cook Noemia is amazing at meeting any requirements regarding food. We have multiple children with allergies, and they are still able to have meals provided which we are lucky to provide.

What is your favourite time of the year and why?

Matariki (the Māori new year) is my favourite time of the year because it is all about celebration and spending time with family and loved ones. At Active Explorers we have a beautiful celebration where the children put on a concert or play, and a soup is made from vegetables that have been bought in by the children and their families as it is also a harvest festival.

Where are you in your studies?

I am currently about to begin my second year of my Bachelors in Teaching

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Tatiana, Nursery teacher/ Nursery Team Leader/ Assistant Manager.

I got inspired to be a teacher after becoming a mum myself. Not having any family around me was really challenging and i really wanted to do something that supports the young families during the most exciting but also very challenging times of their lives. I feel privileged to be right at the beginning of children's learning journey  and foster the dispositions which they will carry on into their life of learning.

I have been working as a teacher for the past 14 years.

What I love most about this centre is that it is like a big family where the teachers support and nurture the children, the families and each other.

My favorite day in the centre is Matariki celebration. Every year we have a big pot luck dinner and a concert and it is lovely to come together.


My philosophy is based on respect. As an infant teacher a lot of it is based on RIE and the work of the brainwave trust, that comes out with a lot of science based research around infant and toddler care.


I have a diploma in Early Childhood Education.

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Jodi Arkinstall, Qualified Teacher - Te Awa Room

I am originally from Wellington and have been in Christchurch for almost 4 years and have been teaching at Active Explorers Central City in this time also. I have been working in Early Childhood Education for approximately 10 years, first starting out as a qualified Nanny then embarking on a life changing journey of gaining my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Teaching. 


Being around younger cousins led me to discovering a passion for teaching, inspiring, and advocating for children. I love how children form relationships and use these to engage in play based learning while becoming confident within themselves and developing lifelong skills. The relationships that I form with the children is what I love most about teaching. Seeing a child achieve something they have been trying to for so long with the support and guidance I have given them is such an amazing feeling and is what drives me to be a loving, nurturing and supportive teacher. 

I look forward to working with children, whanau and the rest of the Active Explorers Central City team to empower children into becoming confident and ambitious learners. 

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Sweety Jane, Qualified Teacher - Te Moana Room

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?

I love working with children as every day is unique in the preschool and always gives me unexpected learning experiences when working with children. It always inspires me to be creative and hence keeps me growing.


How long have you been working in the sector?

I have been working in the early childhood sector for 3 years now.

What do you love the most about what you do?

Inspires me to be creative and an opportunity to nurture young minds.

What are three things that make your centre special?

A cordial environment, the respect for all cultures and quality of care

What is your favourite time of the year at the centre and why?

The favourite time of the year would especially be summer as we can explore a lot of outdoor activities.

What is your philosophy in regards to ECE?

My philosophy regarding ECE is respecting every person's individuality and providing learning experiences that suits a person's individuality.

What relevant qualifications do you have?

Bachelors in Education and a post-graduate diploma in Early childhood Education



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Leo, Qualified Teacher - Te Maunga Room

What inspired me to become a Early Childhood teacher is being with children and teaching them makes me happy, and it is really pleased to see their growth and development. 

I have been working for a year at Active Explorers Central City after being a student there.

The favourite part of my job is sharing the knowledge of what I know to children and doing group activities with them.

The three things that make our centre special is our international cultural environment, teachers really care about children's development and we have a male teacher.

My favourite time of the year is Summer time, as we enjoy all areas of waterplay and it is full of sunshine and joy. 

My philosophy with ECE  is Free-play philosophy. 

My qualification is  a graduate diploma in teaching. 

Melissa, Teacher - Te Maunga Room

I am in my second year of my Bachelor of Teaching degree in Early Childhood Education. I was inspired to make the move from construction into this role to further my understanding and love of children.

My philosophy of teaching revolves around putting tamariki first in everything I do and embracing all cultures and children as individuals. I love being there to support our children in all that they do and to watch them grow and get ready to make that transition into primary school.

Here at Active Explorers we have a fantastic team of teachers from different cultures and backgrounds who bring amazing diversity to the table. We are part of a fantastic community here in the central city, with great diversity that gives us teachers and children rich opportunities to learn from each other.

I love summer time here at our centre where we do so much outdoor water play and have a blast! It’s also Christmas time where we bring our families together to share food, our children put on a concert and everyone has a wonderful time.

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Katherine, Admin-Teacher

I have working in this ECE sector for over 25yrs in various roles and capacities. I am currently in an admin role which I love! This has really expanded my knowledge and understanding of ECE on many levels.

What  do you love most about what you do?:

I love seeing both children and families grow and be enriched by by being part of a quality centre. Relationships are key and hold such importance.

What are the three things that make your centre special?: Relationships/Community/Fun

What is your favourite time of year at the centre and why?:

This is very tricky as I love the seasons in Christchurch! I do love summer and the fun-filled outside play that the children can involve themselves in!

What relevant qualifications do you have?

Diploma in ECE.

My  philosophy is very much based around the importance of play for children. Feeling loved and safe, also a great sense of community in a centre.

I love our own centre philosophy: As Kaiako we are here to guide, support and nurture our tamariki and our community.

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Bridget van Woerden , Head Teacher- Te Awa and Te Maunga rooms

I have been working as an early childhood teacher for over 5 years and I have a Bachelors of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). I have spent most of my 5 years working with in the preschool but I have really been enjoying spending some more time recently with the prep school children.

I love working with children and get so much joy seeing them grow and develop into the big 5 year olds heading off to school. On our children's last day before they head off to school we have a graduation and they put a korowai (a cloak) on. They always stand so tall and proud of themselves knowing that they are ready to go to school.


As a teacher I believe that each child is unique and have different strengths and interests, therefore my teaching approach in supporting them to be a competent and confident learner needs to be unique. At Active Explorers Central City we have an inquiry approach to learning that I love being a part of. We look at in interest of the children and encourage their own natural curiosity to lead the learning, while introducing new concepts around science, literacy, numeracy and other curriculum subjects. 


He taonga te mokopuna, Kia whāngaia, Kia tipu, Kia rea

A child is a treasure, to be nurtured, to grow, to flourish

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Noemia, Chef

I have been working for Active Explorers for just over a year and working with food for 8 years.

What I love most about this job is making sure the children eat well to help support their bodies and minds.

What I really like about the Active Explorers Central City is the team, how children can enjoy different experiences through the teaching team and that they are able to experience these experiences at their own pace.

My favourite time of years is Christmas. I love the decorations, the joy in the air and the feeling of happiness around the place.

I am qualified from Brazil in Marketing and administration with a degree, postgraduate degree in HR, and Level 5 in Business in New Zealand. All of this helps me run a successful kitchen: HR helps me deal with people and business helps me with budgeting.