Our People

Dan Paine – Chairperson

We moved to Matakana in 2005 and several years later when considering our young children's education, we discovered Montessori through the positive word-of-mouth we were hearing from families about Totara Hill Montessori Pre-school. The shared learning environment and the way that this form of learning strives to instil strong self-confidence really resonates with me.

Tara Southgate – Communications

I discovered Montessori through a friend whose two teenage boys had an extensive Montessori education.  I've always been impressed with how smart, creative and articulate they are, but also the high level of emotional intelligence they seem to have. When I got around to having children I enrolled them at the local Montessori Pre-school.  Later, to my disappointment, there were no local Montessori primary schools so our family relocated to Whangaripo Valley so that our children could continue their Montessori education.


Cees van Egmond – Treasurer

Mariska and I discovered Montessori through the Helensville Montessori Pre-School, back in 2007. Heather and her team, and subsequently the teachers at Huapai District School, did a great job 'converting' us. When it was time for Yma to go to a primary school, we were looking for a smaller school. A conversation with Jane, the then-teacher, proved that Room 15 would be the inclusive environment we were looking for, so we moved here. And we're still glad we did. We believe that through education we can make the world a better place, so I look forward to do my bit through this Trust.

Jemima Briggs – Secretary

Ewan and I are committed to leaving a better planet for our kids, and educating future generations is vital to achieving that. Mainstream educational systems are increasingly about standardisation and conformity. Kids fail to see the point of going to school or learning, which has become about ‘finding the right answers to pass the tests’ rather than about stimulating divergent thinking and building confidence, resilience and kindness. We are excited about being part of a Montessori community in the Mahurangi area and have 2 kids at Totara Hill Montessori.