Currently on Maternity Leave

Malenka is currently spending time on Maternity Leave. 

Malenka has been an educator at Oma Rāpeti since 2013. Malenka has spent time in both The Burrow and The Meadow. She holds a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) from the University of Auckland. Malenka completed RIE® Foundations: Theory and Observation™ Course in 2011, and has also completed Dance with Me in the Heart Levels One and Two. Malenka believes in the critical role that strong relationships with teachers, whānau, and children play in children's learning.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Mahatma Ghandi


Centre Manager

Stephanie joined the Oma Rāpeti family in June 2017 and has been welcomed into our senior team as Assistant Manager in 2019. Steph is currently our acting Centre Manager while Malenka takes Maternity Leave. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Auckland and a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood) from Auckland College of Education. After more than twenty years of teaching, Stephanie completed Dance with Me in the Heart Level One in 2017. She is passionate about building authentic relationships with children and their families and loves nothing more than observing children totally engrossed in their play.

"Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning."

- Magda Gerber


Senior Teacher

Shirley was born and raised in sunny Dunedin and has been an early childhood teacher since 2004. She joined our team in October 2012 and is currently a Senior Teacher in the Meadow. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Otago and Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE) from University of Otago College of Education. Shirley has completed Dance with Me in the Heart Levels One and Two.  She has an ongoing interest in implementing a culture of kindness within the centre. Shirley loves to share her passion for nature and gardening with the children, so they in turn can explore their relationship with the natural wonders of the world.

"Let the child be the scriptwriter, the director and the actor in his own play"

- Magda Gerber


Senior Teacher

Antonia is our wonderful Burrow Senior Teacher. She completed a Bachelor of Spatial Design from AUT in 2012 and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood) from Auckland University in 2015. Antonia has been working as an Early Childhood Teacher in Grey Lynn since 2014 and continued her learning completing the RIE® Foundations: Theory and Observation Course™ in 2017. Antonia values the special position teachers have within children's lives. She is very excited to be working in the community that she grew up in. 

"Don't forget to stop and smell the roses."

- William Hagen​​



Debbie has worked at Oma Rāpeti since the centre opened in October 2011, initially in our kitchen and administration support. At the beginning of 2013, she joined the Burrow team. She already held a Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching) with Honours from Oxford University, but went on to complete a further two years teacher registration process. Debbie has attended Dance with Me in the Heart Level One and Level Two. Debbie strongly believes in the need to engage with our children in the natural world. She is passionate about supporting them as they connect with their senses, nurture their sense of wonder, look with them and marvel at the miracles of nature. In this way she hopes to keep the enchantment of childhood alive.

"Play is the work of the child."

- Maria Montessori



Monique joined the Oma Rāpeti whānau in May 2019 where she is working alongside the tamariki in the Burrow. She is currently working towards her Bachelor of Education (Teaching) ECE and will graduate from The University of Auckland early 2020. Monique is passionate about continuously developing herself as a teacher and how she can better implement respectful practices with children. Monique is very excited to be working in a centre where respect and trust are the base of the philosophy.

"If you can dream it, you can do it"

- Walt Disney


Relief Teacher

Mariko completed her Bachelor degree in childcare in Japan and worked as a teacher for three years before coming to New Zealand. Mariko loves the child-centric approach and found it very close to her ideal way to nurture children.
Mariko strongly believes that healthy food, nature, and kindness are the assets to nurture mentally and physically healthy children. Mariko is also passionate about enhancing and embracing children’s imagination and creativity, which comes from their curiosity and interests. Currently Mariko is studying ECE at Auckland University and joining us when she can.

"There's no hope for anybody if we do not create a world of compassion and generosity"

- Dr Patch Adams


Maternity Leave

Sophie has been a special part of the Oma Rāpeti whānau since 2015, as a relief teacher, a practicum student, a Meadow teacher, and now as a teacher in The Burrow, where her daughter Margot also attends. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Psychology and Linguistics) from Victoria University of Wellington and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE) from Auckland University. Sophie completed Dance with Me in the Heart Level One in 2016 and RIE® Foundations: Theory and Observation in 2019. Sophie is passionate about continuing to learn from the children, by slowing down, observing the children and seeing them for who they are in order to build trusting, authentic relationships.

"Learning to fall, getting up again, and moving on is the best preparation for life."

- Magda Gerber



Hazel joined our team at Oma Rāpeti in September 2017.  She has been working as an Early Childhood teacher since February 2015 in South Auckland. She completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood from the University of Auckland in 2014. Hazel also completed her RIE® Foundations – Theory and Observation in 2015. She believes in developing respectful and responsive relationships with children and whānau. Hazel's beliefs are deeply rooted in creating an environment where children's aspirations are supported. Hazel loves to support children's thoughts and emotions so they can relax within their surroundings and learn, evolve and grow from their experiences.

"​Teaching should be such that, what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty."

- Albert Einstein



Claire joined the team in early 2018 but has been a part of the Oma Rāpeti whānau since 2013, in the capacity of a student teacher, then as a relief teacher, and now as a permanent teacher. Claire holds a Bachelor of Education (ECE), and a Masters of Education with First Class Honours, completed in 2017. The latter enabled Claire to research the transition to school experiences of gifted children. Claire believes this experience has helped her to empathise more with young children as they embark on the challenges associated with stepping out of their comfort zone and learning something new. Claire is passionate about encouraging children’s natural curiosity and fostering their desire to learn. 

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.”

- John Dewey



As a child, Emily always knew that she wanted to be a teacher, so when she was seventeen, she started studying. In 2018, she upgraded her three year Diploma of Teaching to a Bachelor of Teaching. She has also studied how movement helps wire up the brain for lifelong learning. When she is not teaching, you will find her at home with her husband, two best friends and their four cats. Oma Rāpeti's bunny Hutu is happily retired in her backyard, exploring whenever Emily's outside gardening. She is a jack of all trades, a master of some. Since starting at Oma Rāpeti, she has been nicknamed Macgyver, as she is always up for making or fixing anything. You will likely spot her walking around crocheting something for the children. 

"Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."

- Rita Pierson



Ayu, it's pronounced "l" and "U".  Ayu joined our team in January 2020. She gained her Bachelor of Education in Indonesia with a specific major in Visual Arts. She has been teaching ECE in New Zealand for 7 years since she began her ECE training study. When Ayu got to know about RIE back in 2017, she was inspired by the philosophy, she believes in the fundamental of being fully present and slowing down in her practice for tamariki to sense trust while they're confidently wondering, ponder, to try and to take risk at the same time feel safe while doing so.
A part-time artist and full-time teacher, art and teaching have become her passion in life. She strongly believes in creativity and imagination and how they are foundations of everything that makes us unique as individuals.

"I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."

- Vincent Van Gogh



Sophia joined our team at Oma Rāpeti in early 2020, soon after graduating with a Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education. Her Bachelors is in Design, majoring in Textile Design. Sophia loves to connect with children through the exploration of nature and movement, and is challenging herself to increase her use of te reo Māori. Sophia is excited to be somewhere where respect, patience and love are valued and encouraged. 

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

- Lao Tzu



Anna joined the Oma Rapeti team in March 2020. She has always had an interest in and curiosity for learning, so teaching seemed like the perfect fit. She graduated from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Education (ECE) in 2015 and it was during her studies that Anna was introduced to the RIE philosophy. She has continued to teach with this respectful approach to care and education, and it forms the basis of her own teaching philosophy. The infant toddler age group is Anna's passion and she loves learning all about the complex brain development that is happening at this age and seeing that in practice everyday. After spending 4 years teaching and exploring the mountains and snow in Queenstown, Anna has finally returned home to Auckland and is excited to work along such a passionate team in the Burrow. 

"Play is the answer to how anything new comes about."

- Jean Piaget

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Centre Director

Nikki searched through multiple centres before settling on Oma Rāpeti for her son (later joined by her daughter, who is also at Oma Rāpeti) and found herself loving spending time at the centre. It wasn't until she reflected on how much the team had changed her parenting, gently supporting and guiding, that she realised she wanted to continue to learn and develop within Early Childhood Education. Having trained as a Chartered Accountant, but wanting something she was passionate about, Nikki was lucky enough to purchase Oma Rāpeti. Her husband Col is often a familiar face at the centre along with their children Lachlan and Emme. 

"When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.""

- Dalai Lama


Kitchen Manager

Brenda has been at Oma Rāpeti since 2013 and you will find her either cooking our delicious meals in the kitchen or spending time in the Meadow with the children and team. She has a background in working with children in many different areas and enjoys watching children be the beautiful beings they are. Her passion is her family and she enjoys celebrating the spirit of whānau when at Oma Rāpeti.

"Families are like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one."

- Unknown


Kitchen Assistant

Roni has been with us at Oma Rapeti since 2019, helping alongside Brenda to nurture our children through beautiful food. When not with us, Roni loves spending time with her son and family. Roni comes from the sunny North township of Russell and loves spending time with the children here at Oma Rāpeti. 

"Family is not an important thing. It's everything."

- Michael J. Fox

Can you see yourself coming to work with us at Oma Rāpeti?

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"We are all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass
"We are all just walking each other home."

- Ram Dass


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