Our Staff

Our dedicated team at Children First is what makes our Early Childhood Centre the place that it is.  We have created a caring and nurturing environment for your child to ensure that they are able to grow and develop at their own pace
Kate Parker

Kia ora whanau, my name is Kate Parker.  I moved to Lower Hutt in 2015 from Dunedin with my two girls. Bethany is now 16 and Gabrielle is 11. I completed my qualifications in Early Childhood at Otago in 2000. Since then I have been involved with many ECE services. From Home-based to large centre management roles. This year I will also be studying my post grad certificate at Te Rito Maioho.  My philosophy of teaching has changed a lot over the years, but in the end I just love being with the children and helping them with loving life. I like to give choices back to children and let them know I am always listening. Being a busy mother myself and mostly a sole parent I understand some of the pressures we face.

I have introduced Children First to Storypark, an online application where you can instantly see your children’s learning stories. We will still continue the profile books. Please know I am always available to answer any of your queries relating to your children’s care and education.

In my spare time I enjoy fishing, motorbike riding and have a strong interest in travel. One day I hope to travel to Ireland and see where my family came from.

Lisa October

Kia Ora I am Lisa, I found my passion in Early Childhood teaching and have not looked back since beginning my career.  Since starting I have worked in a few different centres and I have gained knowledge around programme planning for the children that I have worked with and how it can be done.  I believe I am a passionate educator and believe in building strong reciprocal relationships with the children and the families that I work with to really get to know the children and to help to provide the best care and education to support children on their learning journey.

I studied at Victoria University Wellington gaining a BA in Criminology and from there studied for and obtained a Graduate Diploma of teaching (ECE).  I started my career at Early Years Wainui Road completing my teacher registration there, after being a registered teacher for several years I applied for a position as Head Teacher in the Infants and Toddler Centre for Early Years at Connolly Street where I stayed until I moved to the Community Kindergarten Naenae working with 2 to 5 year olds and then onto Head Teacher at Community Kindergarten Melling.

Phil Simm
Jamie Tian
Michelle Cooper

Born and bred in Upper Hutt, I now live in Normandale, but still have many family members living/working in Upper Hutt.  I am the eldest of many siblings and so always had young family members and found a natural ability in being able to get along with them and others of a young age.  I got into ECE after I lost my own child at Starship.  I had wanted to do ECE out of school, but joimed the workforce for 10 years before losing Alessandra, which was a life changing moment to push me to my dream job.  Outside of work I love sports and games and supporting the Hurricanes, Lions, All Blacks, Phoenix, Liverpool, All Whites, Warriors, Black Caps and Firebirds.  I play football socially on Sundays and enjoy listening to records with a few beers on a Friday with mates.

Lisa Kareko

Tena koutou katoa. My name is Lisa Kareko and having previously lived in Palmerston North where I was employed with the New Zealand Defence Force and chose to pursue another exciting and challenging career which was to become a teacher. I studied through Massey University attaining a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Years, 0-8 years in 2014.
I now live in Upper Hutt and am married to the lovely Tim, between us we have four beautiful children. My hobbies include sports, keeping fit and cooking. I am excited to be working with children, parents and teachers at Children First and within our community

Maddi Tungatt

Hello, I’m Maddi and I am the head teacher in The Avenue at Children First. I studied at Te Rito Maioha, Early Childhood Education Institute, and graduated with a Bachelor of Teaching in May 2019.
I am the youngest of four siblings, and grew up with teaching in the family as my parents are both secondary school teachers. This year I have moved out of my family home in Totara Park here in Upper Hutt, and have moved I with my partner and his three year old daughter, in Titahi Bay Porirua.

My personal philosophy is to create a respectful, relationship rich, multicultural environment, where tamariki can explore and become confident communicators and learners, through our play based, curiosity approach to learning. I strive to empower tamariki as individuals through celebrating their culture, and the cultures of their peers. I aim to use positive guidance while offering tamariki assistance as they accomplish challenges and goals. I love a simple and naturally resourced environment that invites children to explore grow and develop in their own time.

Catherine Burke

I have lived in Porirua for the past 29 years previously living in Southland.

I am married to Paul and we have five children; Shaun (Melbourne), Alana and Kate (Wellington), James (Germany) and Patrick (Auckland).  We have six amazing Grandchildren.

Working in ECE seemed like a natural choice to me- after all being a mum of five I had the experience.  I started working at the local preschool part time when my youngest was one.  I loved working with children, parents and colleagues and discovered I wanted to learn more.

I attended Wellington Teachers College when my youngest was five.  Field based training worked for me hands on and practical.  I graduated with Diploma of Teaching in ECE, which was a huge achievement for me.

Working in ECE has been my passion for 27 years.  Everyday is different- it brings challenges, but is very rewarding.

I value respectful relationships with infants and toddlers and pre-schoolers, discovering each child’s uniqueness.

Building trust, security, understanding and care through collaboration with families and team members.

I work to nurture and promote the growth of a secure confident child who can communicate, participate, learn and work with others.

As a teacher I continue to learn and improve my practice as there are always new ways of thinking, new research and new theory.

I love spending time with my daughters and grandchildren.  I like to be creative- I currently have a goal of making six soft dolls to give away at the end of the year in a shoe box appeal.  I enjoy mixed media painting when I have time and my grandsons enjoy joining in with me.

Emily Carter

Kia ora I am Michelle Cooper.  I have recently moved to Wellington from Nelson to be closer to my grown up children.  I have been working in Education most of my adult life.  I originally trained as a teacher and taught at a number of primary schools in the Hutt Valley in the 1980”s.   I spent several years in the UK and on my return to New Zealand settled in Nelson to bring up my children. I have always been passionate about education and have found my niche working with our under-fives.  I decided to re-train in early childhood and gained a graduate diploma in Early Childhood in 2005.  If I can help a child have a positive experience in early childhood, where they discover the joy of knowledge and the excitement of learning, then I will be satisfied and they will be well set for the next stage in their education and  understand that education is lifelong.   

I have many interests.  Throughout the years I have been involved in many sports both as a participant and a coach.  I was a swim coach for Waimea club in Richmond Nelson for sixteen years. 

Music and drama have played a big part in my life also.  I was involved in theatre in Nelson and I dabble in several instruments, including guitar.  I am proud to say I have passed on my passion to my children and intend to give the children I teach the chance to experience the joy also.

Hannah Bartholomew 

Kia ora! 

My name is Hannah and I have been teaching here at Children First for two years. I have been working in Early Childhood for seven years and completed my Early Childhood teaching degree through Te Rito Maioha in 2016. Prior to teaching and working at Children First, I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time travelling. Two of my favourite countries I've been to so far are Jordan and Uganda. They are both so environmentally beautiful and filled with unique wildlife! This year in 2019, I am going to Thailand and Vietnam. I am very much looking forward to sampling the local delicacies and learning about local history. Travelling has helped me develop two of my key passions in teaching: environmental sustainability, and teaching from a multi-cultural point of view. I am excited to learn about each child's unique culture, and I strive to include these cultures in my everyday practice. As a child, I was so lucky to grow up in a bi-cultural setting. My Nana is fluent in te reo Māori and taught me a lot of what I know. I also grew up following tikanga Māori, so this, along with te reo Māori are important aspects to my teaching. I enjoy building strong relationships with whānau and I look forward to working alongside you and your tamariki!

Noelene McGill

Hi, I am Noelene McGill I have worked in early childcare for twenty years and the last eleven years I have worked at Children First, cooking and teaching.  I have two wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren, who I love spending time with.  I enjoy watching and playing sports.

Hayley Farrell

Kia Ora my name is Emily Carter, I live in Totara Park with my fiancé and 3 beautiful children.

I originally studied for a diploma in ECE in the UK around 10 years ago and I am now currently completing my degree in ECE through the New Zealand Tertiary College.

I am passionate about the learning and development of young children and believe through positive relationships with children and their families we can support and nurture our children to become confident and competent learners.

In my spare time I love going to the beach and taking my children on bush walks in our amazing country.

I look forward to sharing the learning journey of your tāmariki with you.

Claudia Nicholas

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