Our People

Shirley-Anne Taiaroa , Centre Manager

What inspired you to pursue a career in early childhood education?

My journey as a teacher began when I relieved at a Kohanga Reo back in the 90’s.  Back then I was a trained receptionist and that was all I knew at the time. From then until now, working with children has always been my destiny.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I love every minute of every day. It is the most rewarding job ever and now that I have become a centre manager, I feel empowered to instil that passion for working with children in teachers.  

What is your personal ECE philosophy?

I bring with me a wealth of music, love of teaching and cultural identity. My teaching practice involves creating stimulating and fun environments, as well as fostering confidence and independence within children. I am also a trained Montessori teacher, so combining philosophies has been part of my lifelong mission.  The similarities, and possibilities, are amazing… Kaupapa Maori, Montessori philosophy and Te Whariki all woven together to create a mat of learning for children. 

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, specialising in Montessori Philosophy

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Jing Li, Team Leader for toddlers

Hi, I’m Jing,

I graduated from the University of Waikato in 2012 with a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE). I am a fully registered teacher.

I endeavour to provide children with the very best start in life, while offering parents/whanau peace of mind that their children are experiencing quality care and education in a well-resourced space, with a vibrant, passionate teaching team.

I have an amazing partner, three daughters who attend Epsom Girls’ Grammar School and ANI, two cats named Mimi and Marlo, and a younger sister who lives in San Diego with her family.

In my spare time, I enjoy running, reading, and gardening. I usually block time for gardening with my daughters and Mimi over the weekend and it makes me feel relaxed to be nurturing my green friends.

Ngā mihi,


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Catherine Fenwick , Team Leader for babies

What inspired you to pursue a career in ECE?

Having grown up in a family that have been heavily involved in education it was a natural progression for me to follow in their footsteps. However, I am the first of my family to actively seek a career in Early Childhood Education. Something that I know was the right decision for me.

I have always been drawn to children of an early developmental age and when I had the opportunity to study ECE at the University of Auckland. I had the joy and experience of observing that rich content of learning through exploration and play on a personal level with tamariki of all ranges of age within that context of practicums.

Fast forward to this present day and I could not imagine pursuing a career in any other field. Early Childhood Education is home for me.


What do you enjoy most about what you do?

For me, what I truly enjoy most about my role as a Kaiako is the connections I make with both tamariki their family and whanau, and through that, working side by side in the learning and development of their tamaiti.

There is nothing I love more than seeing a tamariki coming in for the first time and watching them go through the stages of exploration. Observing throughout their journey growing in both confidence, knowledge, and communication. Talking to families and whanau and listening to them share in the surprising developments that they have noticed about their tamaiti. For me in this role there is nothing more enjoyable than seeing the positive growth of a tamaiti and watching them move on to explore the next stage of their learning development.


What is your personal ECE philosophy?

My philosophy is deeply rooted in giving all tamariki, family and whanau respect and through that establishing a credible and trusting relationship with any tamaiti. This however all begins with allowing all tamariki to experience an enriched environment in which they feel safe to explore and to develop their own sense of worth and belonging.

Working side by side with tamariki and sharing in positive interactions is valuable in understanding each tamaiti development. By recognizing this, I feel I can provide an environment where a tamaiti will feel empowered, respected, and loved.


Relevant Qualification

Bachelor of Education (Teaching)

Moureen Ali, Classroom Teacher for toddlers

My journey as a teacher began after my daughter had turned 1.5 years old and seeing her achieving her milestones made me want to come into the early childhood sector and study to gain more knowledge as to how I might be able to help her achieve her goals as a toddler.


I did my certificate level 4 and then spent another year doing Diploma level 5. During this time, I used to work as a Relieving Teacher in the then called Lollipops, St Lukes. After I completed level 5, I decided to go to the University to get my Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (Teaching).


I enjoy being with tamariki and every day for me is different and very rewarding. I get to see and experience different cultures, values, their funds of knowledge which each individual child brings with them and seeing their happiness and smiles just makes my day every day.


I believe that children learn best through experiential learning and play. I view myself to be open-minded as I provide children with the time and space that they need to work on their dispositions and working theories. As an early childhood teacher, I am strongly committed to Te Whāriki, New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum document and value a holistic approach to my teaching and learning through play and child-centeredness. My goal of “Kōrero I roto I te reo Māori anake” “Speaking Māori fluently” enhances my teaching philosophy and aims to fulfil my strong commitment towards the bicultural aspect of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.


Relevant Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Teaching)
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education - Level 5 (Teaching)
  • Certificate in Early Childhood Education - Level 4


Jignasha Joshi, Classroom Teacher for preschoolers

Kia Ora, Namaste, my name is Jignasha and I graduated from Victoria University, Wellington in 2010 with a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood education). My other degree, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Education, was gained overseas. I have been an ECE teacher at Active Explorers since 2011 and I have been proud to be part of the growth and development as a centre. 

I have had a strong passion of supporting children to reach their full potential. This stemmed from my diverse educational roles in New Zealand and overseas, mainly in special education. I believe learning happens when it is through children’s personal interests in positively challenging, multi-literate and bicultural environments, and within authentic reciprocal relationships. My personal philosophy for teaching and learning values the importance of respect, relationships, and joy. 

 Relevant Qualifications:

  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood education)
  • Bachelor of Education
  • Master of Arts in English
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Shinsuke (Shin) Yoshimura, Classroom Teacher for preschoolers

Education has always been my greatest passion for more than 12 years after starting my bachelor's degree in teaching. In my teaching career, I have been working with children in early years (from 0- to 8-year-old).

In the meanwhile, I have pursued my academic interests, especially in the transition from preschool to school, and completed my postgraduate degrees at the University of Auckland.

 It is absolutely fortunate for me to be part of this wonderful community; I do my utmost to contribute to its well-being and further growth through early childhood education. With children, I love dancing, music, and outdoor activities!

 Relevant Qualifications:

  • Master of Education
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education
  • Bachelor of Teaching
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Priti Sanghavi, Classroom Teacher for toddlers

Kia ora and namaste, my name is Priti. I have been living in New Zealand for 17 years. I have studied certificate of ece level 6 and have been working as an ece teacher for 11 years.

I am very passionate about supporting children to develop at their best potential level in nurturing, stimulating and fun-loving environment. I believe that every child is unique, and the environment and the curriculum can enable them to develop their sense of identity, confidence, enjoyment and skills.

 In my leisure time I love listening to music. I love travelling and be with the nature. I also enjoy reading books.

 I have been married for 23 years now and blessed with two children who are the major reason for my happiness. I like to spemd quality time with them.

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Harsha Taunk, Classroom Teacher for infants

What inspired you to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education ?

After having spent a lot of years as a sales person for a retail business working from my head, I was looking for a change in career which was more heart focusedand which would give me more sense of satisfaction. I have always loved children and since my kids are now grown up, I was longing for an opportunity to be with children. Hence, I thought ECE would be an excellent career to fulfil my passion.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

 I love my work as it involves being around children. The innocent smile and the unconditional love that emanates from them, fills my heart with joy and happiness.

 What is your personal philosophy?

 A quote that I think in compass my personal philosophy is children are not vessels to be filled but lamps to be lit…..

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Farzana Firdose, Classroom Teacher for toddlers

I'm Farzana Firdose. I'm originally from India and have been living in New Zealand for the last 11 years.  I began my career in Early Childhood Education since 2018 as a reliever and then as a part-time teacher. I have a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from India.

I have always had a passion for Early Childhood. I love supporting and encouraging tamariki minds in their early years.  Building strong relationships with them is important to me. Seeing tamariki develop to their full potential, watching them grow makes it worthwhile to be part of their lives.

I look forward to spending time with tamariki and Whanau.

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Csilla Fristaczki, Cook

Kia ora, I am Csilla and I have been cooking for the Active Explorers whānau for the past few years. My two children have attended the centre since they were babies, therefore Active Explorers became our second home, and technically my job was to cook for my very large family:)

Food and hospitality are the ways I express love and respect for the people around me, small or big. Food safety and hygiene are my passion, and I enjoy designing healthy menus. I have a Level 5 Diploma in Professional Cookery.

Eliana Elia-Tavaita'i, Team Leader for preschoolers

My name is Eliana Elia-Tavaita'i however everyone calls me E or Whaea E, I am born and raised in Aotearoa, my parents are from Aitutaki and Rarotonga, Islands within the Cook Islands.

I hold a Diploma and a Bachelor Degree in ECE and I am fully registered. I have spent the last 13 years teaching and now am expanding my leadership capabilities.

I have four children, three young sons aged 16, 17, and 18 years old, and my 3 year old princess who reminds me everyday why I love to do this job. I have always enjoyed being around children and find it very rewarding being a part of their learning and development. It is a great privilege for me to work with and care for your little ones, look forward to meeting you and your whanau.

Kia Manuia