Our People

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Lena Florance, Centre Manager

I have over 25 years’ experience in education within the private sector, non for profit and training establishments. This includes infants, toddlers, and young children plus groups of educators in a mentoring and teaching capacity. Coupled with 10 years of owning my own businesses, I enjoy managing and working with people in diverse settings and establishing and maintaining great relationships.

I have 3 fantastic children that keep my husband and I super busy with traveling around New Zealand and abroad with all their sporting, art, music and many other achievements. I love to learn and love to get amongst life!

I am passionate about the Early Childhood sector and it’s a privilege to be working alongside amazing teachers and parents to provide the ultimate learning environment for children.

I look forward to welcoming you all to our wonder centre here in Grenada.


Krithi Grenada
Kritha , 2IC

Kia ora/ Namaste/ Vanakkam Whānau,

I am Kiruthikaa, fondly called by everyone as Krithi. I'm a fully qualified and registered Early Childhood Kaiako with almost 11 years of teaching experience. I also hold a First Aid Certificate. I'm passionate about working with children under 5, fostering positive relationships, and enriching their learning experiences. My teaching philosophy revolves around exposing children to tools and experiences that enhance their understanding of ideas and concepts, strengthen their existing knowledge and capabilities; at the same time encourage new capabilities to emerge. It is also important to understand that before knowing what to teach, you need to know whom you are teaching so that you can use this knowledge as a foundation to build learning.

Originally from India, I moved to Wellington 16 years ago, completed my Bachelors of Arts

in International Relations, and obtained a Graduate Diploma in ECE from Victoria University.

I enjoy spending my free time with my family—my husband Rahul and our three girls, Dia (9) and Vedha (4) and Tara (5 months). Our family activities include park visits, long drives, beach outings, and, on rare "me" days, you'll find me immersed in reading. 

I'm excited about the opportunity to collaborate and ensure every child reaches their full potential and I cannot wait to meet you all! 



Maryanne Lapana, Assistant Manager - 2IC

Fakaalofa lahi atu, Kia Ora & Warm pacific greetings to you all – Fakaaue lahi kehe Atua!

My name is Maryanne Lapana and I am a fully qualified and registered teacher. I have a Bachelor of Teaching & Master of Education (ECE) with 5 year’s plus experience.


I hail from the beautiful Island of Niue in the neighbouring Pacific Ocean. I am a leader within my community as a committee member or leader for the following groups: Niutupu Pulapulaola group, Wellington Niue Rugby League (WNRL) & Niue moui olaola.

I am not self-made, I am village made, I am community made (Fruean, B, S, 2023)

I look forward to meeting you all and hearing your story

Fakaaue lahi – Nga Mihi

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Lynda Hopkin, Head Teacher

Kia Ora, My name is Lynda Hopkin.

I have been working in Early Childhood Education since 1996 and graduated with a Diploma of Teaching (ECE) in December 2006. While working as a head teacher I was awarded an ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014.
I have been working at Active Explorers Grenada as a head teacher since 2018, supporting all rooms of the centre.  Prior to this I worked at a community creche for 21 years and as a reliever at a kindergarten where I supported two children with additional learning needs.

What do you love most about what you do?

I have always had a yearning to work with children as a nurse. When I had my own children I worked at the local kindergarten, before taking on a role at a community creche.

Working with children is inspiring. I am a dedicated and loyal employee and build strong relationships with whanau. I love working with children and their whanau in a partnership to support each child’s learning and development as the responsive and reciprocal relationships empower children to be confident and competent learners. I believe children learn through play and collaboration with others and with the guidance of an adult who can inspire them to be curious about their world around them. Now that I have two grandchildren of my own, my work has become more important to me.

It is easy to be passionate about teaching when you are valued and respected for your time spent supporting the learning and development of yourself and you have the opportunity to develop yourself to be a better educator.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of teaching?
I love rugby (the All Blacks and Hurricanes), Softball, and hockey. My hobbies are related to supporting my family in their sport. Now that I have grandchildren, I spend time teaching them too.

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Jamie Kwon, Teacher

Kia Ora!

My name is Jamie Kwon. I'm originally from South Korea. I have lived in Auckland for 5 years and moved to Wellington in 2021. I majored in Psychology and English in university back in Korea. After I moved to New Zealand, I had a good opportunity to work as an Admin support in a preschool. Working there, I saw how New Zealand Early Childhood Education empowers children to grow their confidence and self-efficacy.

It was also a positive stimulus for me as a mum of two children. I decided to study Early Childhood Education, and finally got a Graduate Diploma (Level 7) from New Zealand Tertiary College in 2022. I love working with children and learning together with them. I'm looking forward to meeting and spending lovely time with Rakau Children! 

Renita Pambala, Teacher

Kia Ora,
My name is Renita Vijayalatha Pambala. I am a qualified teacher having full NZ teacher registration.
I’m from India. I have two grown up children. I love working with children nurturing and supporting them to become confident, competent individuals and make a valuable contribution to the society.
I build relationships with tamariki and believe in creating an inclusive learning environment where they can feel comfortable, loved, safe and secure have fun and enjoy their learning.

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Marie Bird, Centre Cook

Kia ora, my name is Marie. I have worked here at Active Explorers Grenada for nine years. I have always had a passion for working with tamariki, helping them to grow and became lovely human beings. After 7 years of teaching, I was excited for a change and moved into the kitchen role. I love cooking and take pride in making yummy and healthy food for all the tamariki.

I was brought up on a farm where all my food was straight from farm to plate. I am great at making something out of nothing. My favourite thing about this job is knowing I am helping the tamariki grow and develop with healthy and tasty food.

Victoria Hanson, Teacher

I am a qualified nanny and have been working with kids off and on since I was 15.

I enjoy spending time with my friends and family and going out for a horse ride, I love arts and crafts and spend a lot of my free time doing journal Scrap booking and making cards, I also love to have a laugh and a joke. I am really enjoy working with Children and helping them grow and experience the world and helping them learn and have fun while doing so.

I cant wait to get to know you all and keep learning as I go.

Daena Allen, Teacher

Hi, my name is Daena

I am a teacher in Kakano and Koru. I am a qualified and provisionally registered Kaiako, with a current first aid certificate.

I love tamariki and being able to help them develop and grow into smart young tamariki. I enjoy learning new things everyday alongside the tamariki which makes me proud to be a Kaiako, experiencing new challenges and learning alongside the tamariki to use our problem-solving skills.

Outside of work I love spending time with my whanau and all my animals, including 3 dogs and 3 cats. As you can see, I also have a passion of making myself stand out with my choice in hair colour.


I am looking forward to connecting and communicating with each whanau, as I am a very energetic and loving person who loves to talk.

Emma Francis, Teacher

Tena koutou katoa 

Ko Emma Francis toku ingoa 

Hi, my name is Emma Francis 

I have been working at Active Explorers Grenada for 4 and a half years in the pre school room (Ngahere).

A bit about me, I’ve worked with children for majority of my working life. From after school care, teaching softball in schools and now working in ECE. 

My biggest passion is softball and sport in general. 

I play softball for New Zealand,  and the skills I learn in my sport is what I like to use to help contribute to children’s learning. 

I love seeing the children build confidence , grow and challenge themselves. I also try my best to build good relationships with the parents/whanau to make the journey special for them as well. 

I want the best possible outcomes for children/tamariki and pride myself on making sure they have fun and build confidence in themselves. 

Nga Mihi 

Lucy, Teacher

My name is Lucy.

I’m a new teacher in Juniors Room. I finished my study of Graduate Diploma in Teaching(Early Childhood Education) at New Zealand Tertiary College and received my teacher registration last year. I came from Auckland and now it’s the beginning of my Wellington adventure. I am passionate about providing endless opportunities that allow all children to develop and learn holistically amongst others. I feel so grateful to be part of Active Explorers Kaiwharawhara! I expect an incredible journey with you all — our lovely tamariki and whānau.




我是露西,是 Juniors Room 的新老师。 我在NZTC完成了教学文凭(幼儿教育)的学习,并于去年获得了注册教师证。 我之前在奥克兰,现在开始了全新的惠灵顿之旅。 我致力于创造机会让所有孩子都能全面发展和学习。 我很荣幸能成为 Active Explorers Kaiwharawhara 的一员! 我期待与大家一起度过一段不可思议的旅程——我们可爱的孩子和家长们。

Photo Nikki Grenada
Nikki Lloyd, Teacher

Kia ora

I discovered the joy of early childhood through my children and our Playcentre journey.  Once my children started school I completed a Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Education through Victoria University. I particularly value music in the ECE curriculum and like to engage the tamariki with music in all its forms; my main instrument is the ukulele.

Through my teaching experience, and raising my own children, I have learned how important it is to know and understand each child and their whānau. I believe that children learn holistically by integrating who they are and what they already know with their quality experiences.

My husband and I have 3 children, a cat, a blue tongued skink, and 5 guinea pigs. Outside of work time you’ll find me spending time with my friends, family and animals, often being active and enjoying the natural environment.

I look forward to becoming a part of the Active Explorers community with you.

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Liz Miller-Williams, Teacher

Hi my name is Liz Miller-Williams, and I’m a fully qualified and registered teacher.  I have over 22 years of experience in a private centre in Johnsonville, with babies/Infant and toddlers. 

My interest include doing craft’s, reading, walking, and hanging out with my niece and nephews.

I’m looking forward to getting to know you all at Active Explorers Grenada.

Susmitha Grenada
Susmitha Anandeshi, Teacher

Hello! Kia Ora! Namaste!

My name is Susmitha Anandeshi.  I did my Postgraduate Diploma in ECE (level 8) and worked as a full-time ECE teacher in Auckland. I took a break as I had a baby. I am starting my career again as a full-time teacher at Active Explorers, Grenada.

I was born and raised in India in a big joint family. Taking care of children and being inclined to their needs was natural to me. I am a mother to two lovely girls who are 17 and 4.

In my free time, I love to read books, do arts and crafts, and spend time with my family.

Every child is special in their own way! I love working with children as I believe that young minds need positive nourishment to be a successful adult. I believe that communication is the key to a child’s development and also to a great parent-teacher relationship.

Edna Natasha Clarke, Teacher

Kia Ora and Namaste,
My name is Edna Natasha Clarke and I am a qualified kaiako. I have been teaching for the past 11 years having completed my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education in 2014.
I believe that each tamariki bring their own individuality, strengths and interests to the table and are unique in their own special way. I also believe that I learn as much from tamariki as they learn from me.

At home I have a supportive and loving family consisting of my husband Mark, daughter Alicia and son Aaron.
In enjoy walking and my dream is to one day climb to the base of Mt. Everest, my only experience being climbing Mt. Kau Kau in the weekends. So any tips and ideas are welcome.

Korongite (Ngite), Teacher

Hi Everyone, just a little bit about myself. I moved to New Zealand at the age of 9 and I am currently living with my parents and my daughter down in Porirua. I studied in NZMA Early Childhood Education and completed my level 3 & 4 and I am planning to further my study in the near future. I have been teaching for 2 years now.

I have always had an interest in working with children as I grew up in a big family where I learned to be responsible by caring for younger siblings as well as nieces/nephews. I am also a
mother to a 4 year old.

I believe that children should be confident in the environment that
they are in as well as around the people who teach and care for them daily, and to be able to express themselves in their learning. Children also need to be assisted and guided in a positive way as well as in the environment where they feel safe and secure, which I think helps them to develop their growth through positive guidance, assisting communication, and play.

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Krishna Priya Ellanki, Teacher

Kia Ora ! Namaste !

My name is Krishna Priya Ellanki.

I am from India, I moved to New Zealand 11 years back. I was Yoga teacher in India.

After moving to New Zealand i started working as Teacher Aide in Waterloo Primary School. Currently i am working with Evolve for the last 4 years.

I like to focus on building positive and meaningful relationships with both Tamariki and Whanau. I believe that nurturing and care supports the child's self confidence within our environment as from here their creativity can truly be explored.