OUR TEAM

A bunch of loving, trusting wonderful humans! Our team includes our staff, our governance board and our fundraising committee

OUR STAFF

Passionate, dedicated, and loving, Te Akonga Early Learning Centre teachers love their work and it shows in everything they do. Our goal is to make a positive difference on children who come to our Early Childhood Education Centre.

Nikki Tarapa
Centre Manager

Kia ora koutou, ko Nikki toku ingoa, no Ngāpuhi ahau.

My name is Nikki and I am privileged to be the Centre Manager of Te Akonga Early Learning Centre. I first came to Te Akonga as a parent in 2006 and am proud to say, all three of our tamariki have been Te Akonga babes. Following several terms on the Governance Board, I applied to be the Centre Manager in 2016 and have enjoyed my special role, ever since.

 

I have a Bachelor of Social Science with a Psychology major, a Post Graduate Diploma of Teaching and a Post Graduate Diploma of Māori and Business Management. I worked within the Primary and Tertiary sectors of education for 18 years before moving into the ECE arena and I have to say, it is the most heartwarming and rewarding sector of education.

 

I am so proud of the inclusive learning environment we offer here at Te Akonga and absolutely admire our hard working, dedicated, loving, team of teachers. Our Governance Board, our Fundraising Committee and our wider community of dedicated parents, make our place super special. We welcome new families to join us, so pop in and see us anytime.

Erin Akast

Head teacher - Koru

I began my teaching career at Te Akonga in 2005, completing a Bachelor of Education, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Early Intervention. I believe in providing children with an environment in which they are seen, heard, valued and supported to grow as unique individuals. I believe it is our job as teachers to support children to grow as explorers, problem solvers, negotiators and decision makers.

Jo Moller

Head teacher - Pitau

Kia ora, I’m Jo and I am a qualified, certificated teacher with a Bachelor Degree in ECE. I first came to Te Akonga almost six years ago as a student teacher and knew it was a place where I wanted to stay, due to the inclusive philosophy and the caring, welcoming environment. I am now head teacher in the Pitau room where I have the privilege of working with an amazing team of kaiako. 

 

I fully believe in respectful care for all children, and take my inspiration from the early childhood literature of Wallis, Gerber and Pikler. As a teacher I strive to provide each child with a secure and loving place to spend their time. If that is achieved then learning and fun will follow. 

 

I look forward to meeting your beautiful children and forming solid relationships with your whānau.

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SARAH GRACE-WARA

First response facilitator

My journey with Te Akonga began in 2000, where I began working at a place that quickly became home for many many years. Initially I worked as a teacher with the children aged 3-5 years, and eventually became head teacher of the Pitau area, leading the team for approximately 7 years. I took on a new role in 2018, as the leader of Early intervention based in the Koru team. You may not see me at the centre as I am currently working out in the community fulfilling a contract that our centre was awarded by the Ministry of Education. This new role often reminds me of the massive need that exists within the wider community and I feel grateful that at Te Akonga, our unique philosophy guides all that we do.

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WENDY COLE

Assistant head teacher - Koru

I have been here for two years now and have loved every second of it. I love the warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that you are greeted with daily. The passionate staff that learn and grow alongside our tamariki everyday and very importantly that within our care, children are loved and nurtured as individuals. We grant their needs and extend their learning through play.

I am looking forward to my future here at Te Akonga, meeting new children and their whānau and continuing my journey of being an educator. ‘Teachers who love teaching…...teach children to love learning’.

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ROBYN WHARE

Assistant head teacher - Koru

Kia ora I'm Robyn Whare, I am married with 6 children who have all attended Te Akonga Early Learning Centre. My journey with Te Akonga began as a parent 23 years ago. I have gone from being a parent to the cleaner to a reliever to now being a qualified early childhood educator.

 

I currently work 1:1 with our children who need extra support. I have a long history with Te Akonga and have enjoyed every moment of it and I look forward to many more years of teaching and learning.

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WAIPOURI ADAMS

Teacher - Koru

I'm a teacher in training here at Te Akonga. I'm currently studying through Te Rito o Maioha, to become a qualified ECE teacher. I first arrived at Te Akonga as an Education Support Worker before joining the team. Before heading into this journey of becoming an ECE teacher, I knew nothing but my own motherly instincts as I am the proud mother of three beautiful, talented tamariki. It is through Te Akonga that I have grown to love my place within the centre and also the community. I'm ever so grateful to be working alongside beautiful, kind hearted women whom I have learnt a lot from over these past years. I love how our centre is strong in whanaungatanga, kotahitanga and manaakitanga. No reira, tena koutou katoa.

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KRISTA PAYNE

Teacher - Koru

Kia ora, my name is Krista. I began my teaching career in 2009 completing my Bachelor of Education in ECE and then a few years later my Graduate Diploma in Early Intervention. My journey with Te Akonga began as a parent, then student teacher and now a Teacher in Koru. Te Akonga for me is a place of love, kindness, passion, inclusion where learning happens so naturally guided by the most wonderful teachers I have known.

 

I believe in nurturing a love of learning, leading our tamariki to be strong, thinking inquisitive individuals within and beyond our centre gate, as lifelong learners.

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PETTY MOYO

Teacher - Koru

I hold bachelor’s degree in ECE and a Diploma in Primary School Education at the United College of Education in Zimbabwe - where I am from. I believe that children everywhere develop in similar ways and according to the
universal stages of development; that they are not passive learners but social
actors who make important contributions to their development.

 

I love my job, especially here at Te Akonga where there is real inclusiveness and embracing of cultural diversity. I also love being part of this amazing family.

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RENE STRYDOM

Teacher - Koru

Kia Ora, I am a mother of two beautiful girls, through which I discovered my passion for teaching.  I began my teaching career in 2014 and hold a higher certificate in Early Childhood Development.  I believe that every child deserves respect and gentle care in a loving environment where they will be supported to reach their full potential and grow into independent individuals.

I started my journey at Te Akonga as a reliever in September 2019 and am privileged to have became a full time member of the Koru team, where I am able to work alongside a great group of teachers.

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KAREN PURUA

Teacher - Pitau

I have worked within Te Akonga or many years, firstly as an Early Support Worker, a student teacher to now a fully qualified and certificated educator, nurturing and supporting ngā tamariki within our Pitau space. Te Ao Māori resonates within my teaching practice through values and beliefs I uphold to, to sharing of waiata and korero Māori alongside tamariki. In Pitau we love to dream and play, laugh, sing, dance and grow beautiful minds.

 

Come for a chat, the jug is hot and our door is always open. No reira, 'Poipoia te kakano, kia puawai - Nurture the seed and it will blossom'. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

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TESSA MEAD

Teacher - Pitau

I joined Te Akonga team in mid 2019 after finishing my bachelor in 2018. It’s quite amazing how much growth happens in the earliest years of your life. I love supporting and nurturing all of our tamariki in finding their own identity and interests.

 

I feel so privileged to teach here at Te Akonga - it is such a wonderful place, with beautiful people, and being a part of something very special.

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SONYA FINLAYSON

Teacher - Pitau

I have been part of the Te Akonga whānau for many years, firstly as a parent when my two younger children came through our centre, then as a reliever, an education support worker, as a staff member in both Koru and Pitau and I am now part of the Pitau team full time.

 

I thoroughly enjoy working with our tamariki and helping them to flourish within our environment whilst being part of an amazing team.

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ALLE DE FARIAS

Teacher - Pitau

My story with Te Akonga started in 2006, when my middle daughter was diagnosed with Autism. I looked for a pre school to support her and found Te Akonga. During this time I was on the Te Akonga Governance Board. This was an exciting time to be on the board, as Te Akonga moved from Wellington St to Franklin Rd. I came to work in Pitau in 2014 and quickly found out that working with a team of like minded ladies is a great way to spend the day.

 

I adore working with our under 3 year olds, I really value the connection with the child and their family. My most special value our team provides is supporting the child to feel like Pitau is their place, so they can be themselves. I look forward to meeting you xx

VANESSA MOLONEY

Administrator

I have had a long history with Te Akonga ELC, having sent all three of my girls through this centre.  I was fortunate enough to be welcomed onto the floor as a reliever during the time that my children attended Te Akonga.  I loved my time teaching and even contemplated studying towards a Diploma in Teaching (ECE).

 

I have a background in Accounts and Administration so when I was offered the position of Office Administrator at Te Akonga, I jumped at the chance of working for an amazing company, in a dream team, doing the job I love, while still being able to interact with the beautiful children in our care. 

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GLORIA CROFT

Kitchen assistant

I have worked at Te Akonga for the past 30 years - I am one of the original staff members, fondly known as 'The Tight 5'. I began working at Te Akonga in the infant and toddler space, and some years ago semi-retired by moving into the kitchen to make sure the children get their 5+ a day.

 

All my years I've had a wonderful time working beside caring staff members and beautiful children. I highly recommend Te Akonga to any prospective parent as I know it's a wonderful place.

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AMY BAKER

Kitchen assistant

I entered Te Akonga as a parent a few years ago and eventually found myself on the relievers list in 2017. Now I'm most often found in the kitchen or working on the floor in Koru. Through this time I have also joined the governance board and the fundraising committee.

 

Personally, I love the home-like feeling and inclusive environment here - we really are like one big family!

 
 

OUR GOVERNANCE BOARD

Te Akonga Early Learning Centre is a community based, not for profit centre, governed by parents who make up our Governance Board.

The Governance Board is elected at the Annual General Meeting and consists of a Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Centre Manager, Staff Representative and Parent Representatives. The board meets monthly and is responsible for the governance function of the centre.

Current members:

Robyn Moloney - Licensee

Richard Eggleton - Chairperson

Nikki Tarapa - Centre Manager

Vanessa Moloney - Secretary/Treasurer

Jo Moller - Staff Representative

Shanae Thomson - Parent Representative

Amy Currie - Parent Representative

Tim Brown - Parent Representative

Amy Baker - Parent Representative

Lizzie Farrell - Community Representative

Anne Boulton - Community Representative

OUR FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE

Our centre has a voluntary fundraising committee made up of parents, caregivers and staff. The aim of the Fundraising Committee is to raise funds to cover expenses over and above the usual funding received.

 

The fundraising committee hosts several fundraising events throughout the year that are often targeted at resources and experiences that will directly benefit our children e.g. our annual Trikeathon, whole centre trip and children's christmas party.

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