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.


Rhonda Pool

Hi, 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, accounts and all the other office duties to keep the busy centre running.  I enjoy coming to work every day and working with the wonderful team we have here. 

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


Annaliese Booler

My name is Annaliese  and I am the Centre Cook at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

I have worked in the food industry for many years. I have a passion for not only healthy food but good tasting food, which is very important to me. 

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.



Molly Sietu

Tui Room Head Teacher

Kia ora everyone. My name is Molly Sietu.                                                                                                                       I am part Māori and part Niuean and have lived in West Auckland my entire life. I have been an Early Childhood Educator since 2000.   I have had the privilege to have worked for Shona and Carol at Bayfield Early Education since 2002 for 14 ½ years, with all age groups – Nursery, Toddlers and Preschoolers.  It was here where I grew into the role of Head Teacher, first in the Toddler Room and then the Preschool Room alongside Yvette who I am very excited to be working with again.  I am happily married with one daughter, Krisarn.                                                             I am very passionate in working with children. I believe that they develop and learn best in a loving, nurturing, calm, understanding, safe, fun, and healthy environment.                                               I love learning while I teach. I learn that children can show you things that you wouldn’t even think of. I will continue to grow my skills and knowledge in working with the children and families in the Tui Room here at Pupuke.                                                                                                                             I’m really looking forward to meeting and getting to know each of the families and tamariki at Pupuke Early Education Centre.

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 Head Teacher

Kia ora to all our lovely Pukeko Room whānau.                                                                                                                                          I feel very honoured to be taking on the role of Head Teacher in the Pukeko Room. As I have now officially started this role, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has welcomed me. Our tamariki (and indeed teachers) do feel it when much loved teachers leave, so I will be doing my utmost to make the transition of new Head Teacher (and new teacher) a smooth and happy experience for all. Please feel free to talk to me at any time if you have any concerns or even just to say hi.                                                                                           I am a New Zealander but have travelled and lived overseas for a number of years. I am happily married with 3 children and one 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 since 2002 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 continuing my learning journey as I learn new skills and build upon my relationships with parents and whānau in my new role as Head Teacher.

December 2018

Zakia Buckle

Tui Room Teacher

 Kia Ora. My name is Zakia Buckle. My husband and I immigrated with our two sons, aged 15 and 14, from South Africa in December 2016.

I started my career as a Social Worker after obtaining a Social Science degree from the University of South Africa, majoring in Social Work and Child Psychology. Whilst practising as a social worker, my interest in teaching increased, hence I completed a Diploma in Montessori Teaching.

After my sons were born, I stayed at home to focus on their upbringing. During my free time I completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree, started my own food business, and joined a teaching institution which gave me the opportunity to teach kindergarten children basic science and chemistry.

In New Zealand, I started working as an Early Childhood Relief Teacher and Teacher Aide working alongside tamariki with special needs. I have registered with New Zealand Tertiary College to complete a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

I hold strong beliefs in the importance of quality care and stimulation for our tamariki. The early years of a child’s life are the most critical in developing healthy and emotionally well-adjusted children. My background in child psychology provides me with the ability to enhance the well-being of each child, so that they may maximise and develop to their full potential.

I am thrilled to be part of the Pupuke Early Education Centre Team. I look forward to working alongside your tamaraki and be involved in their learning journey.

Lyn Hagger

Pukeko Room Teacher

Tēnā koutou – hello everyone. Ko Lyn ahau – my name is Lyn. I am delighted to be returning to the Pukeko room and am really looking forward to meeting and getting to know all of the children and families. I live locally with my husband and three adult sons and am originally from the U.K.

I have been teaching in the early childhood sector in New Zealand for over 13 years now. I am a fully qualified, registered teacher and have a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Years) from the University of Auckland and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Primary) from the U.K.

I believe that young children learn very well through open-ended, freely chosen play based experiences and I love sharing special moments as children explore, make discoveries and learn at their own pace.

I am really looking forward to encouraging your children to follow their own thought processes, to sustain their attention and focus through open-ended, child-led free play. I am excited to promote the dispositions that are valuable for supporting lifelong learning, such as courage, resilience, curiosity, trust, compassion and playfulness.



July 2019


Julie Yang

Pukeko 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 Bayfield Early Education Centre for the last two years. 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.

In November 2019 I moved to work in the Pukeko room.


Catherine Yang

Tui Room Teacher

Kia ora! Ahn Nyong Ha Se Yo!

My name is Catherine Youngeun Yang and I am from a city called Daegu in South Korea. I started my training at New Zealand Tertiary Collage in 2009 and finally graduated and become a qualified early childhood teacher in 2014. It took 6 years to complete my training as I met my husband, got married and had two beautiful children, Ella Kyuri and Aiden Jiwook.                             I love to spend time with my family, and my sister Julie, who worked in the Tui room and is currently on maternity leave. I started to work as a relieving teacher at Pupuke Early Education Centre in 2013 and in September 2018 started as a teacher in the Pukeko room. In November 2019 I moved to work in the Tui room.                                                                                                                                I understand I could be one of the first adults that children have interacted with outside of their own family. Creating warm and welcoming environments for children and the family/whānau are important. I respect the uniqueness of each child and have a passion for guiding young children as well as supporting their learning and achievement in their own level.

Sophia Cai

Tui Room Teacher

Hello – Ni Hao, my name is Sophia. I moved to New Zealand from China in 2006 and started working at Pupuke Early Education Centre in November 2009. I then left when I had my son, Apollo, coming back to Pupuke in 2015. 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.

Natalie Broderick

Tui and Pukeko room support teacher

Hello, my name is Natalie Broderick.                                                                                                                                In 2018 I completed my degree in Early Childhood Education. Whilst studying, I worked part time in a few Early Childhood Centres with all age groups under 5 which I thoroughly enjoyed. As well as this I have volunteered in reader mileage programmes and in the transition room at Takapuna Primary School.                                                                                                                                                          I am very excited to be joining the team here at Pupuke Early Education Centre where I will divide my time between the Tui and Pukeko rooms.  In my practice my guiding principle is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I feel it is important to instil a sense of compassion, empathy and consideration for others in children.                   

October 2018

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

7:30am-11:30am (Tui and Pukeko Rooms – for 3-4 year olds)

Free afternoon session

12:30pm-4:30pm (Tui and Pukeko Rooms  – for 3-4 year olds)