Our People

Lena pic.JPG
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.


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

Lynda 2.png
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.

jamie.jpg (1)
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! 

Connie Chan, Teacher

Kia Ora. My name is Connie Chan, and I came from Hong Kong.  I have been in New Zealand for over 16 years and graduated from Open Polytechnic with an Early Childhood Education level 4  certificate. I have been working at Active explorers Granada for 4 years. I can speak Mandarin and Cantonese.  I love music and singing very much and I believe music can stimulate children's brain development. Also, music can help children control their emotions and support children to settle.  I hope that through experience and my responsibility, children can gain more in their growth journey.

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.

Julia Zhang, Teacher

Hello, my name is Julia Zhang, and I am a registered ECE teacher with a passion for working with children. I graduated from NZ Tertiary School in 2021, and I have been working at Active Explorer Grenada Centre for the past 5 years.

As a teacher, I have a natural love for children and possess the patience and sense of responsibility required to provide the best care for them. I thoroughly enjoy communicating with children and believe that my job as a teacher is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling professions.


Working with children provides me with endless surprises and a sense of happiness that comes from being surrounded by them. Having been in New Zealand for over a decade, I have also gained a deep understanding of the country's culture and Maori culture, and I believe that my multicultural background enables me to guide children's interests effectively.

During my time at Active Explorer Grenada Centre, I have developed valuable teaching skills and have become adept at creating a fun, engaging, and educational environment for the children. I have also gained experience in creating and implementing lesson plans that are tailored to meet the needs of individual children.

20200921_151755.jpg (1)
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.

Nardia Whiteman, Teacher

I have been part of early childhood education over fifteen years and am passionate about providing quality education and believe that it essential that all children have an opportunity to play and learn in a supportive and caring environment.


My teaching philosophy includes:

  • Relationship with parents / caregivers to form a strong partnership in children’s learning
  • Create a positive environment that encourages children to take risks and know that their culture, values, and ideas are respected and celebrated by their peers and kaiako.
  • Creating learning that is fun and is authentic, based on children’s emerging interests so that it is meaningful and relevant.
  • Allow children’s natural curiosity to guide and direct their learning.

Early childhood education is an exciting sector to be involved in and a privilege to be part of.

I am excited to be part of the Grenada whānau and am looking forward to supporting the team and tamariki.

During my down time I enjoy spending time with family, reading and supporting my local community by providing services for whānau to spend time with their tamariki.



Nardia Whiteman

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 

Ana, Teacher

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 

Tamara Lei'u, Teacher

Talofa Lava 

My name is Tamara Lei'u.

My family come from the beautiful Island of Samoa.

I was born & bred in Wellington, NZ 

Working with children has reminded me of how exciting and awesome the world we live in can be. I love seeing the world through the children’s eyes & watching them learn and grow is such a rewarding feeling. 

I have been a part of the Active Explorers team since 2016, beginning my journey at Active Explorers Cambridge Terrace before joining the Kaiwharawhara whanau.

Rui, Teacher

Kia ora everyone, my name is Rui, I was born and raised in China and move to New Zealand in 2016. I have a Graduate Diploma in Teaching Early Childhood. I love children in all age groups especially toddlers and enjoy capturing children’s special moments, developmental milestones and unfolding personalities.

I considered myself as a passionate and patient person, which could help me to build warm relationships with children. I also love music and travelling, which assists me to improve my creativity and imagination and apply those during my teaching. I am really looking forward to see all the exploring, learning and fun we get to have together!

Tejal Govind, Teacher

Tena koutou katoa

Ko Tejal toku ingoa

Ko Wellington ahau

Ko Active Explorers toku kura

No reira

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

Kia ora whanau,

My name is Tejal Govind. I am one of the teachers in the Juniors Room.

My passion is to help expand young children’s minds and to help them grow and develop into young independent learners.

I spend my spare time dancing, cooking and enjoying the company of close family and friends. 

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。