Meet the team

Shona Hewitt

Kia ora my name is Shona Hewitt and I have the privilege of being the Centre Manager here at Pupuke Early Education Centre. I have been involved in Early Education since 1983 when I began Playcentre with my 2 young daughters. I am a qualified registered teacher with a graduate diploma in educational management. Most of my career has been spent leading teams and managing childcare centres. It is an exciting job and full of fun and laughter.

Working with and alongside children and their teachers gives me a great deal of pleasure and joy. I have been here at Pupuke since we opened in 2009 and I believe we have a very special place here – “A Home away from Home”. Our centre philosophy is embedded with the virtues and virtues education is very much a part of what we teach and what we believe in.

I would be delighted to meet you and give you a tour through our beautiful facility here at Pupuke. Give our centre a call and speak to either myself or Rhonda, our lovely office manager.

Annaliese Booler

My name is Annaliese  and I am the Centre Cook at Pupuke Early Education Centre.I have worked at Pupuke since April 2009, where I was part of the team who set up the centre.

I have worked in the food industry mainly in restaurants and for my family for many years. I have a passion for not only healthy food but good tasting food, which is very important to me.I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to be working alongside a fantastic team of teachers and staff.

I look forward to cooking healthy and nutritious food for your child. Please feel free to chat to me regarding any dietary requirements your child has.

Rhonda Pool

My name is Rhonda  and I am the Office Manager at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

I have worked at Pupuke since we opened in April 2009, being privileged to be part of the team who set up the centre. You will find me at the busy front desk taking care of all administration, children’s files, accounts and many other office duties. I enjoy coming to work each day and working alongside the wonderful team we have here.

I know your children will love their time here and I look forward to a long and happy association with you all.

Christine Hambrook

Tui Room Head Teacher

I am excited to begin my new role as Head Teacher in the Tui Room. I look forward to meeting and getting to know all the families and enrolled children. It feels like I have come full circle because when I initially starting working at Pupuke Early Education in 2010 it was as a teacher in the Tui Room! From a teaching perspective I believe children flourish from child initiated learning, supported by a stable, trusting environment. My intention is to assist your children to develop their potential as individuals on three levels: emotionally, physically and cognitively.     I consider it a privilege to be working with and alongside you and your children here at Pupuke Early Education Centre. I hope that your association with us will be memorable, lots of fun, and rewarding for everyone. If you should have any concerns about your child’s development and would like to talk to somebody about this, please do not hesitate to come and see me. My qualifications in ECE include firstly a Diploma in Education which I upgraded to degree-level following further study.

Carolyn Taruc

Tui Room Teacher

Hello! My name is Carolyn and I am very excited to join the wonderful team at Pupuke Early Education Centre. Early childhood education is my passion and advocacy. Since 2008, I was an early childhood educator at the Balay-balay (Playhouse) Child Minding Centre in Iloilo City, Philippines, where learning is cultivated through play. I also had the wonderful opportunity to be one of the organizers of PAREF Preschool Ridgefield, a private preschool in Iloilo City, Philippines, where home-school collaboration provides a strong foundation for the child’s character formation. I have a Bachelor of Science in Management-Psychology degree from the University of the Philippines, a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from the West Visayas State University, Philippines, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood Education) from the New Zealand Tertiary College, Auckland. My husband and I are comfortably settled here in New Zealand, while being supportive of our two adult sons who are trailblazing their careers. In addition, I have happy feet which makes music and movement second nature to me. I also love to travel to other countries and I consider each journey an insightful adventure. Being surrounded by children makes me feel young at heart and their world of wonder constantly amazes me. Moreover, I uphold and respect the uniqueness of each child, as well as their individual viewpoints. Furthermore, I believe that children should be given the freedom to learn through exploration and diverse experiences, in order for them to develop and enhance their self-efficacy and competency.

I look forward with eagerness to work in harmony with my associates, to coordinate and develop collegial relationships with the parents/whānau, and to build supportive and trusting relationships with the children. I consider it my privilege to share joyous, exciting, and enriching learning moments with your children, in a centre where we are all a community of learners.

Emilia Demerdjieva

Pukeko Room Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Emilia Demerdjieva and I come from Bulgaria. I worked as a Primary school teacher in my country for 10 years. My entire working experience has been with children. Since I arrived in New Zealand, I have worked as a childcare supervisor at Lollipops in Birkenhead, Programme Supervisor at Kids Choice in Murrays Bay and as a relieving teacher for Geneva Education. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree of Teaching recognized by NZQA. I joined the Tui room team at Pupuke Early Education Centre in 2011, and as of July 2016, I moved into the Pukeko room. I consider it a privilege to be working with you and your children. As a teacher I believe in creating a secure and safe environment where all children are entitled to respect and are accepted for who they are, and I have been very happy to work in a centre with the same priorities.

Jo Sietu

Pukeko Room Teacher

Kia ora, My name is Jo and I have been working with children for the last 25 years. Before starting at Pupuke Early Education Centre in August 2016, I was at Bayfield Early Education Centre in Herne Bay for 15 years. I have worked with all age groups from nursery to toddlers and the last 4 years in the preschool room. I consider it a privilege to be working here at Pupuke in the Pukeko room. As a teacher I believe in supporting children to become happy, independent, confident and competent learners. And most of all creating an environment where they can have fun!

Aaron Mitchell

Pukeko Room Teacher

Kia Ora, My name is Aaron Mitchell and I am very happy to be joining the team in the Pukeko Room. I am a New Zealander but have travelled and lived overseas for a number of years. I am happily married with 3 children and a 4 year old grandson. I love to spend time with my family in the beautiful outdoors of New Zealand. I have been a teacher of Early Years Education for 15 years and I feel privileged to be in this profession. I completed my training at Massey University in 2001 where I did a Bachelor of Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma of Primary Teaching. Although I am trained as a primary teacher, life had other plans for me. When I finished my training I travelled to the UK where I started working as an Early Years Teacher. Early Year’s Education in the UK has a philosophy similar to here in New Zealand that is an emphasis on learning through play. I spent 11 years working in the UK and then came home to New Zealand. As a teacher I believe in building strong, individual relationships with each child, helping them to feel valued as a unique person and making them feel safe and secure. With this foundation I believe that children will feel happy, grow in confidence and independence and then blossom into eager, curious and competent learners. I am excited and looking forward to meeting and getting to know all of the children and their whanau at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

Karen Wilson

Tui Room Teacher

Hi my name is Karen and I have been working with children for the last 15 years. I started as a primary teacher with junior children in the UK, then moved home to NZ where I also worked as a Nanny, Early Childhood Reliever and trained in Child Centred Play Therapy, which I have used with children in a community agency. I am very passionate about children’s education and well-being and enjoy seeing the way children develop and grow at different ages and stages. I also love books and like to share the joys of a good story with children. I look forward to getting to know the children and their families at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

Yvette Crystal Loggenberg

Pukeko Room Head Teacher

My name is Yvette and I am the Head Teacher in the Pukeko room; I have moved from the Tui room, where I was the Head Teacher. I arrived in New Zealand in January 2011 from Cape Town, South Africa. It was not an easy decision to leave my birthland, my family or my friends, but I was offered an adventure of a lifetime and so I put on my brave boots and took the leap. Any regrets? No, not at all. There are days when my heart rules my head and I need to grab at skype or viber to come to the rescue. The world becomes smaller, the voice on the other side settles my longing, and all is well within my soul. My family has grown since arriving here. My daughter has married a good Kiwi bloke, and we have been welcomed into his whanau with open arms. Now I am on the quest to find a good Kiwi girl for my son, who still lives in Johannesburg, and then my happy place will be complete. I have worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for 34 years, and it was a particularly exciting experience to have participated in the political changes that occurred in South Africa during the Madiba era. I held a variety of positions, all of which have left indelible influences on my practice and philosophy of teaching and interaction with the young child. I have worked hard at getting to know the New Zealand approach, and I have been blessed to have spent most of the time here in the Bayfield/Pupuke fold. Management has guided me with patience, my colleagues have taught me through their professional, skilled and caring ways, and the children and their families have accepted and encouraged me daily. My first year at Pupuke has flown by, and I have loved every minute of it. The toddlers gave their love unconditionally, and their enthusiasm and honesty was a joy to behold. Every day is a new beginning for them and they grab at opportunities with their whole being. They made me smile, and their cuddles immediately changed my day from a bit of blue to bright yellow. And now I look forward to working with the pre-schoolers. I have worked with this age group for most of my teaching years, and find their approach to life and learning to be innovative, imaginative creative, enthusiastic and energetic. I enter this new phase with great excitement!

“The soul is healed by being with children.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Jade Williams

Support Teacher (Tui and Pukeko Rooms)

Hi my name is Jade Williams. I’ve been working at Pupuke Early Education Centre since January 2015. I enjoy working at Pupuke as each room (Tui and Pukeko) are both different and have their own unique aspects. Working in both rooms helps me become more knowledgeable on ways to meet each child’s, and different age groups, needs. In my spare time I like to go camping, 4 wheel driving and spending time with my family.

Lyn Hagger

Pukeko Room Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Lyn and I am delighted to join the team working in the Pukeko room here at Pupuke Early Education Centre (October 2016). I have over 10 years experience of working with young children in early childhood centres in New Zealand and I find it incredibly rewarding watching children discover, learn and grow. My teaching qualifications include a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE) from the University of Auckland and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Primary) from Anglia Polytechnic University (UK). I have many years experience of teaching New Entrant aged children in England where I grew up. I am particularly interested in the preschool years of early childhood and engaging children in meaningful early literacy and early numeracy experiences. Schematic play also fascinates me, where children follow an innate interest/urge to repeat certain actions until they are satisfied and have mastered it. I love the fact that this type of play is self-chosen and can be very fulfilling for children. I also love to foster and inspire creativity. I have been attending an art class in Belmont in my spare time and I really enjoy drawing and painting. At the weekend I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and 3 sons and going horse-riding along Pakiri or Muriwai Beach as often as I can. I am really looking forward to getting to know all the children, to finding out about their interests and passions and to meeting the families. It will be so exciting and so much fun sharing laughter with the children and creating special memories in their magical, early years. “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom” George Washington Carver Aroha nui

Sophia Cai

Tui Room Teacher

Hello – Ni Hao, my name is Sophia. I moved to New Zealand from China in 2006 and have worked at Pupuke Early Education Centre since November 2009. I had my baby boy, Apollo, last year. All my family loves living in beautiful Auckland. As a teacher I have built my practises around respecting Individuality and Diversification. I feel it is important for me to establish trust with each child and look at ways to support their learning. I believe children need to feel safe, loved, respected and trusted, getting a sense of belonging and enjoyment in their early learning journey.

Julie Yang

Tui Room Teacher

Ahn young ha se yo – Kia Ora and Hello. My name is Julie and Jeongeun is my Korean name. I came to New Zealand in December 2008 with my sister to study Early Childhood Education from South Korea. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Youngnam University in 2007 and wanted to become an English teacher in South Korea. For a year I worked with children who were non-English speakers and helped them to learn the alphabet, phonics and basic conversation. I also did voluntary work with children with special needs for a couple of years. Through these precious experiences, I wanted to gain in-depth knowledge about Early Education for young children and decided to study in New Zealand. I have a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education from New Zealand Tertiary College. Since 2011, I have worked as a reliever at Pupuke Early Education Centre while I was in training and then I worked as a Nursery teacher at another centre. I respect and support children and their families/whānau from diverse cultural backgrounds and building respectful and collaborative relationships with children, families/whānau and colleagues are a crucial part of my teaching practice. I am super happy to be back in my home centre in the Tui room, and looking forward in getting to know all the children and families here at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

Contact us

20 Lake Pupuke Drive,


Phone: 09 489 8666

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday

Full day – 7:30am-5:30pm
Part day – 8:30am-3:30pm

Free morning session

8am-11:30am (Tui and Pukeko Rooms – for 3-4 year olds) 

Free afternoon session

12:30pm-4:30pm (Pukeko Room only – for 3-4 year olds)