Our People

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Moana Tawiri, Centre Manager

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?

Teachers played a significant role in my childhood and I’ve always known that teaching was the path I wanted to take. I initially began my education journey completing my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary). Throughout my studies I relieved in ECE and absolutely loved the learning through play philosophy and encapsulating a holistic view of children. I’ve been involved in the education sector for eight years now.

What do you love most about what you do?

I am a strong believer in quality, intentional teaching and as a manager, I love supporting Kaiako to do and be their very best. As a result, I love seeing tamariki and their love of learning and curiosity, come to life.

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

Christmas! I love the festivities and taking the time to celebrate all of the children’s achievements throughout the year and slowing down to spend time with the families.

What is the most important thing to look for in an early childhood centre?

Ultimately for me it comes down to the teachers. Are they kind, empathetic and genuinely caring? You want that special teacher who goes the extra mile to remember those quirky things about your child and who recognises all of the amazing things that make them, them!

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Suzi Cook, Prep Room Team Leader

Kia ora whanau, my name is Suzi. I bring with me over 8 years’ experience within ECE and have recently completed my Bachelor in Education.

I truly love my job and can happily say that early childhood ignites my passion. I believe in quality time and this includes taking the time to have in depth interactions with all tamariki.

When I am not working you’ll find me hanging out with my partner, my 10 year old son Izzak and my crazy Labrador Max. We are an active family who love water sports, rugby and adventure sports like snowboarding or mountain biking.

I cannot wait to get to know you all and share some laughs and amazing experiences. If you have any questions please feel free to ask away.

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Trish Prestney, Preschool/Nursery Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Trish. I am currently living in Christchurch, but originally grew up in Temuka.

I have a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) and have been working with children of all ages for five years and within the early childhood sector for 3 years. My teaching approach is gentle and nurturing and I am passionate about encouraging children to be creative and learning about health and fitness.

I look forward to being able to work alongside whānau and seeing children blossom throughout their learning journeys.

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Gemma Teneti, Preschool/Nursery Teacher

Tena koutou whānau 

Ko Gemma Teneti toku ingoa, no Ōtautahi ahau

My name is Gemma and I have lived in Canterbury all my life. I love the semi-rural feel as I grew up between Burnham and Darfield.  Rolleston is my home now where I live with my husband, daughter and cheeky dog Boss.  I am so pleased to be working with you and your beautiful children at Active Explorers Tai Tapu. I love that we can offer your children a big outdoor area included with lots of natural aspects as I feel this is a very important experience for children to explore.

I am a big advocate for treating children with respect and dignity along with empowering their strengths. This gives them a sense of well-being, in turn giving them the confidence to build positive relationships with others and confidence to explore the world around them. I love communicating and working with whanau as this forms consistency for the child. Consistency is very important for children to learn and grow confidently as they become aware of expectations and routines. I look forward to working with you.

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Erin Smith, 2ic & Preschool/Nursery Team Leader

Kia ora koutou. My name is Erin Smith and I am the team leader and nursery teacher here at Active Explorers. I have been teaching for 7 years and have recently completed my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). I love working with children of all ages but I am most passionate about working with infants and toddlers.

I strongly believe in freedom of movement, respectful care, and primary care systems for children. Relationships are the foundation of their learning and it is important to develop responsive, reciprocal and respectful relationships with all of the children in my care. I also believe it is my job to work in a collaborative partnerships with parents and whanau as they are the number one experts of their children. Finally, I believe in an emergent curriculum where learning reflects children’s interests and extends on their current knowledge.

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Aroha Tawiri, Preschool Teacher

Hello, I’m currently working at Active Explorers in the Preschool Room. I have a Certificate in Applied Science and I am looking to study a Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science in 2020. I’ve been working in ECE since January 2018 and have thoroughly enjoyed my time working alongside the tamariki and have learnt a lot. I believe teachers have a responsibility to nurture children’s social competency skills and support them to believe in themselves through play. Any spare time I have I enjoy skating, art, music and science. I look forward to creating some memorable moments with you all.

Sarah Kelly, Prep Room Teacher

Kia ora,

My name is Sarah. Originally from Ireland, I moved to New Zealand thirteen years ago. My husband and I have two children and are settled in Leeston. In my spare time, I appreciate spending time with family and friends and being involved in creative activities, such as pottery. I have enjoyed working with children and families, for many years, as a youth worker and in parenting education.  

It is important to me to build strong relationships with tamariki, kaiako, parents and other significant people in the child’s life. Working together provides the best learning outcomes for tamariki. Engaging in meaningful social interactions, within a calm learning environment, is important to my practice. Infants and toddlers are receptive to learning opportunities when the environment is unrushed, and interactions are respectful. I believe in inclusive practice where all tamariki can benefit from high-quality early learning experiences. 

Rochelle Elliot, Prep and Preschool Support Teacher

Kia Ora

My name is Rochelle. I enjoy getting to know the children, supporting their growth and watching them achieve amazing milestones in their development.

I live in Rolleston with my partner and our two children. My daughter and I like to ride horses, we have three - Ollie, Rocco and Peggy-Sue. In our spare time whenever possible we like to travel and explore the outdoors. I am also a qualified hairdresser and run this as a small business from home in the evenings.

Jane O’Neill, Centre Administrator