Our People

Janine Baker, Centre Manager

What do you love most about what you do?

We make such a difference in ECE.  Social competency, empathy, self-regulation are so integral for life’s journey and it all starts in our early years.  Every day I marvel at the wonders of our children, witness their growth, emotionally, physically and creatively. 

Understanding another’s perspective, being generous with time, listening and creating a sense of belonging is all part of my day – what an amazing job I have!  I love nurturing our amazing team, as well as our babies and have a unique ability to look holistically at people and help them grow.  I am a mother, a matriarch who wants better for our children.  Life has been kind.

What inspired you to get into the early childhood sector?

I spent many years in hospitality, and owned Hammerheads restaurant for over 20 years.  After stepping out of hospitality I decided to work in the early childhood sector.  Knowing NZ has such a strong ECE curriculum, I felt this was where I belonged and could add value.  All the skills I have learnt throughout life, I use here every day, inspiring my team and our children.  It truly feels like all roads led here.

What are your three favourite things about Active Explorers Highbrook?

Wow ONLY three?!  I will try…

  • We are surrounded by an industrial hub.  That brings a beautiful diversity which I doubt our families will ever experience again.  I hope this stays with our children, learning from other cultures and understanding the world.
  • Step inside and you will feel the love instantly, it is tangible.  My team create this, you will know what I am talking about when you arrive.
  • Our eclectic, eccentric, gorgeous team bring a level of creativity that is limitless – resources that you will never find in a brochure, that are based on intentional learning through child led play.

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

Obviously we have fun the whole year round, we have a foyer which hosts our seasons with the most amazing displays.  However, my most favourite time is spring/summer.  Our children delight in waterplay – it’s magnificent to see the joy of an infant when they splash and spray.

What are some of the key ways Active Explorers Highbrook sets children up for the future?

At Highbrook, our intentional learning programmes are always evolving.  A play based development where our teams are dedicated to ‘transition’ –  a tool for change.  Our responsibility is to ensure our children maximise all opportunities and experiences at their own unique pace.  How they feel at each transition in their childhood is central in shaping their trajectory and wellbeing.  I know this is true, so our opportunity in a child’s journey is to thoughtfully move through change, feeling supported, safe and confident.  We must ensure our children leave Active Explorers feeling prepared, because when we feel prepared, we feel confident.  Their opportunities will be endless.

Vanessa Rose, Centre Administrator

I studied early childhood straight after leaving high school and for several years worked in early childhood centres and nannied here and overseas.  An opportunity arose for me to join my father in a family business where I worked for several years in administration and sales.  After having my son, I realised I wanted to return to early childhood because it is a sector I am really passionate about.  My favourite thing about working as centre administrator is seeing all the beautiful smiles that come through our doors, and the wonderful greetings I receive from excited children.

Daphne Mika, Team Leader Kakapo Toddler & Preschool

Talofa lava. My name is Daphne Mika.  I have been teaching for several years and find early childhood a rewarding and exciting sector to be a part of.  I have four beautiful children of my own – my eldest son Berinth, my daughter Angel, and two other sons Constantine and Christian who are living in France playing professional rugby league.  

Bachelor of Education (ECE), full teaching registration

Simita Ram, Team Leader Tui Toddlers

Kia Ora, I’m Simita and I’ve been in ECE for over seven years.  Even though I do not have children of my own yet, I absolutely adore them.  Seeing the smiles on my beautiful babies and getting the best cuddles is the highlight of my day. The most rewarding part of my profession is watching the development of my babies and being a part of their learning journey. In my spare time I love discovering new places to eat and exploring the world with my husband. 

Bachelor of Arts - Linguistics, Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE), full teacher registration

Kawal Chahal, Team Leader Kiwi Preschool

Kia Ora, Sat Shri Akal, my name is Kawaljeet.  I am a mother of two handsome young boys - 13 year old Vanshdeep and 10 year old Tejbir. They are my true inspiration and motivation in life.

I am a friendly and positive person with nearly 17 years full time teaching experience in NZ and India. I enjoyed working as a lecturer in education for more than 10 years in India and as a qualified teacher in NZ for more years seven years in different sectors.  I admire working with children because I appreciate and treasure their honesty, love and willingness to explore and create.  I truly believe that children are curious, competent beings and always deserve the utmost respect and care.  I treasure the children I work with and recognise the important role we hold in their lives.

Masters in Mathematics, Masters in Education, Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood), full teacher registration

Kelly Kim, Team Leader Kiwi Toddlers

Kia Ora, 안녕하세요 (means hello in Korean).  My name is Kelly Kim and I am from South Korea. I came to New Zealand in 2000 with my family.  I have been working with a diverse age group of children for seven years and I have taught primary children for three years in South Korea.  I love working as an ECE educator as every moment of a child’s growth and learning is rewarding and meaningful to me. In my spare time I enjoy watching movies, visiting beautiful places in Aotearoa and sharing delicious kai with my friends. 

Bachelor of Teaching (ECE)

Kristen Chua, Team Leader Nursery

Kia Ora,

My name is Kristen and I am originally from Singapore but moved to Auckland 15 years ago. I have one very cheeky daughter and two fluffy dogs called Milo and Speckles.

I studied at the University of Auckland and attained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in education and minoring in psychology. I also hold a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education). I have been working in the ECE sector for around eight years (part time and full time).

I love arts and crafts, music, baking, outdoor activities and reading. I have a passion for working with babies and absolutely love being with children. This job always makes me happy. I look forward to getting to know you and your child!

Karishma Patel, Team Leader Kakapo and Tui Infants


I’m Kari and I graduated with a Bachelor of Education from AUT in 2014.

I’ve lived in New Zealand for 15 years and migrated from London, England in 2003. I live with my husband and mother-in-law in Flat Bush and have an identical twin sister.

My passion for teaching started at a very young age and it eventually became the career path I chose. As I built up my work experience, I found that I was naturally able to connect with infants and toddlers, and this became my favourite age group to work with. I am dedicated to working alongside your child to help them become happy explorers and confident learners.

In my spare time I enjoy baking, reading, discovering new eateries and being outdoors (swimming, paddle boarding, hiking). I am very family orientated and love spending time with my large extended family and friends. I am a jetsetter and love to travel, seeing  and experiencing new places. I have visited many cities and countries such as Canada, America, Hong Kong, Dubai, India, Australia and parts of Europe.

I look forward to getting to know the children and their families. Please feel free to come say hi and have a chat!