Nikki Gardyne

Centre Director

Nikki searched through multiple centres before settling on Oma Rapeti for her son and daughter 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 become a co-owner with her mum Sue. Nikki is mainly in the office, but often escapes to spend time and read books with the children. 

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

- Dalai Lama

Malenka Robinson

Centre Manager

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

Shirley McQueen

Senior Teacher

Shirley was born and raised in sunny Dunedin and has been an early childhood teacher since 2004. She joined the Oma Rāpeti 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 (Early Childhood) from University of Otago College of Education. Shirley has completed Dance with Me in the Heart Levels One and Two in 2014/15.  She has an ongoing interest in implementing a culture of kindness within the centre. Shirley is our resident gardener who 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

Stephanie Hale


Stephanie joined the family in June 2017. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Auckland and a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood) from Auckland College of Educations. 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

Debbie Webster


Debbie has worked at Oma Rāpeti since the centre opened in October 2011. Her role initially was to offer healthy, home-cooked meals for the children along with some 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 under the guidance of Malenka (Senior Teacher in the Burrow at that time). Debbie has attended Dance with me in the Heart Level One in 2015, followed by Level two in 2016. 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

Yvonne Liu


Yvonne completed her Bachelor of Education (Teaching with honours) in 2014 from the University of Auckland and has mainly been working with infants and toddlers since then. Yvonne is incredibly passionate about getting to know and learning to understand each and every child in partnership with their whānau. Throughout her day, Yvonne loves making deposits in each child’s heart bank. 

"The best and most beautiful things cannot be heard or seen, it must be felt by the heart."

- Helen Keller

Antonia Fletcher


Antonia is one of our wonderful Burrow teachers. 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 we are in as teachers to be a part of children and their families lives. She is very excited to be back working in the community that she grew up in. 

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

- William Hagen​​

Jo Brodie


After arriving in Auckland in July 2014 - Jo jumped straight into the administration role here at Oma Rāpeti. Sister-in-Love to Oma Rapeti founder Tineke, she is also one incredible mother to Isla and Flynn. She attended Dance with me in the Heart level one in 2016 and believes this experience completely changed her life. Jo now works alongside the children as an unqualifed teacher, where she has continued her training with Dance with me in the Heart Level Two. Jo loves being part of the Oma Rāpeti Whanau and "dancing" with the children and teachers - it truly is a home away from home.

"What is for you, won't go past you"

- Unknown

Hazel Fernandes


Hazel has recently joined our team at Oma Rapeti in September 2017.  She has been working as an Early childhood teacher since February 2015 in South Auckland. She has completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood from the University of Auckland in 2014. Hazel has also completed her RIE® Foundations – Theory and Observation in 2015. She believes in developing respectful and responsive relationships with children and whānau. Her beliefs also are deeply rooted in desire to experience an encounter of aspirations, by supporting children’s thoughts to thrive on their experiences within their surroundings.

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

- Albert Einstein

Claire Mayo


Claire joined the team in early 2018 and has been a part of the Oma Rapeti whānau since 2013, int he capacity of a student teacher, a relief teacher and now 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

Brenda Whyte

Relief Teacher

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

Sue Green

Administration Manager

Sue is part owner of Oma Rapeti, along with her daughter Nikki, and is in charge of the administration side. Her previous roles have been in similar administration management, and she happily keeps the team on track and up to date with their filing! Sue lives in the Bay of Islands, and is lucky enough to work remotely with her Oma Rapeti role. She enjoys the excuse to travel to Auckland regularly to see her grandchildren and spend time in the centre. 

"Do what you love, and love what you do"

- Anon

Amber Robins


Amber graduated from the University of Auckland in 2016, completing a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) and have been mainly working with infants and toddlers. I love working in a team and getting to collaborate different ideas with my colleagues. I am passionate about creating a culture of kindness and value the importance of creating strong bonds with not only the children but their whānau as well. 

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

- Mark Twain

Mariko Takaki

Meadow Teacher

Mariko completed her bachelor degree in childcare in Japan and worked as a teacher for 3 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. Marikoe is also passionate about enhancing and embracing children’s imagination and creativity, which comes from their curiosity and interests.

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

- Dr Patch Adams

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

- Ram Dass


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