AMI Montessori 0-3 Diploma, 2013 Portland, USA

AMI Montessori 3-6 Diploma, 1985, Dublin, IRE

Diploma of Early Childhood Education, Equivalency, 1995 Auckland College of Education.

Tia was born in Kenya, but spent most of her childhood in Ireland.  She came across Montessori when she was young and left school at 18 to train as a Montessori teacher, she then traveled for a couple of years, settling in Auckland when she was offered a teaching position in 1988.  Tia moved to Matakana in 1999 with her husband Mark, they have three adult children who all flourished with a Montessori education. Tia is a trust member of the Maria Montessori Education Foundation set up to bring the AMI Montessori teacher training to New Zealand. She really enjoys working with parents, and has created her own parent workshop series.


 Tia traveled to the US in 2012/3 to complete the 0-3 Montessori training. Tia has set up a play group and enjoys working with under 3 year old children and their parents. In her spare time, Tia and Mark enjoy gardening their three acres and enjoying the local beaches, swimming, reading and cooking.





AMI Montessori 3-6, Auckland 2017

AMI Assistants certificate, 2012

Batchelor of Education, 2011

 Marlene is the head teacher and supervisor at Tōtara Hill Montessori. Marlene finished her Bachelor of Education (Early Years) in 2011 and began teaching at Tōtara Hill Montessori soon after. She gained her AMI Montessori assistants training in 2012, and then completed her full AMI 3-6 Montessori teacher training from 2015 to 2017. Prior to her study, she has worked with children, attending Playcentre for many years while her children were young. 


She has travelled extensively, spending a few years living in England with her husband Darren, before returning to New Zealand. Marlene lives locally with her husband and two girls both attend Mahurangi College. She enjoys spending time with the family, gardening and playing the guitar.



ECE Level3 Certificate

Teaching Japanese certificate

IATA standard Diploma of travel and tourism

             AMI (0-3) assistant certificate

AMI (3-6) assistant certificate

Yukie started at Tōtara Hill Montessori in 2015, having spent time as a home based educator. Yukie is a wonderful asset to our school, she speaks to the children in Japanese. She reads stories, sings songs and uses language materials. It is amazing how much the children pick up and speak back to Yukie.

Any language is fantastic for children to learn at this age, and we are very lucky to have Yukie on our team.




LMC Montessori 3-6 Diploma, 1985 London Montessori Centre 

Special needs units, 1994 Palmerston North College of Education.


Lucie started at Tōtara Hill Montessori in 2016. Lucie was born in the UK. She opened a Montessori school in Poole, Dorset. Lucie then travelled to the southern Hemisphere before settling in New Zealand and marrying Chris. While her three children were growing up, Lucie used her Montessori training to work with preschool children from home, preparing them for school. Also, working as a teacher aide with special needs children at Taupaki School, and relieving at kindergartens. Lucie and her husband  came to the beautiful Point Wells area in 2015, they enjoy the natural charm of the outdoors and local beaches. Lucie loves to spend time with family and friends, travelling to new places, going to markets, photography and reading.


  Lucie’s motto – ‘live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly’.



 Diploma of Teaching (ECE) 2004

NZ College of ECE Christchurch

 Diploma of CACHE 2003

 Nanny Certificate 2020 

AMI (3-6) assistant certificate

Renee has taught in a variety of philosophies, since 2004. Tōtara Hill is a new experience for her, she joined the team in 2019 and is enjoying learning about Montessori. Renee comes from Christchurch and has lived in the Warkworth area now for five years with her husband and 3 children.


She has had a small break from teaching helping her husband with their business (Warkworth Butchery). She is a former gymnastics coach. In her spare time, she is a taxi driver for her 3 sporty children!!! She is actively involved in the rugby club and on the Warkworth School PTA. She is excited to be back teaching.




AMI Montessori 3-6, Auckland 2020

AMI Montessori 3-6 Assistants course 2017

Diploma of Teaching ECE 2007

Bachelor of Arts (Education & Art History) 2005

Foundation in Art & Design 1991


Michelle joined Tōtara Hill Montessori as a reliever in 2016. Her son attended Tōtara Hill Montessori while Michelle undertook her Montessori training. Michelle joined the team in 2020.


She enjoys connecting with people in the wider community and linking their knowledge and expertise back into our learning community. Dr. Maria Montessori advocated children as the lasting hope for change in society so as kaiako/teachers we get to be those seed sowers. Michelle has taught in preschools in both NZ and the UK.


Previously Michelle trained and worked as a florist, and outside of Tōtara Hill, she is involved with Scouting NZ activities through her son. Born in NZ, she spent five years in Fiji, lived a year in Norway as a teen exchange student, met her French Haitian husband in the UK, and now loves living on a rural lifestyle block, with ducks, chickens, and lots of roosters!



Currently studying AMI Montessori 3-6 Diploma 

Graduate Diploma in Teaching ECE 2017

Bachelor of Arts (Teaching) 2014

Vinyasa Yoga Teacher certificate 2017

Pie joined us in 2021. Her teaching  journey began when she taught Chinese children English and realised she wanted to teach children. Having finished her studies, she travelled to Aotearoa and began her ECE training. Before she met a mum who highly recommended Montessori to her, and she found a position in a Montessori school. The more she learned she realised she needed to do the Montessori training, which she then began in 2020.


Pie also loves yoga and has been practising it first thing in the morning for many years, she thinks there are some similarities between yoga and Montessori pedagogy, as they both serve participants physically, mentally and spirituality!