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 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 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."
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
Stephanie joined the Oma Rāpeti family in June 2017 and has been welcomed into our senior team as Assistant Manager in 2019. 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
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
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
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
After arriving in Auckland in July 2014 - Jo jumped straight into the administration role here at Oma Rāpeti. Sister-in-Love to Oma Rāpeti 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 a teacher, where she has continued her training with Dance with Me in the Heart Level Two. Jo loves being part of the Oma Rāpeti Whānau and "dancing" with the children and teachers - it truly is a home away from home.
"What is for you, won't go past you"
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, 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 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."
Sue is part owner of Oma Rāpeti, 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 Rāpeti 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"
Amber graduated from the University of Auckland in 2016, completing a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) and has been mainly working with infants and toddlers. She loves working in a team and getting to collaborate different ideas with her colleagues. Amber is passionate about creating a culture of kindness and values 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 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. Mariko 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
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 bunnies Hutu and Kawa have also retired in her back yard. 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
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.