Our teachers

Know our best educators - HeadStart isn't a place of work, it's a home and a family. We understand how difficult it is leave your child for the day. Rest assured, they are in safe hands - this is a profession and a passion for us.


Chris Diprose

ECE & Early Intervention Teacher Qualified

Purchased Headstart March 2011

I bought HeadStart in 2011 to continue my love and passion for working with young children. HeadStart is a centre where we encourage not just learning, but the love of learning.

I am the owner/operator of HeadStart Childcare and Early Education Centre. Along with my parents Geoff and Di Bunny, we purchased HeadStart in March 2011. I have a Bachelor of Teaching and a Post Graduate Diploma in Early Intervention and have worked in the early childhood and Special Education industry for over 20 years, as a nanny, teacher, Early Intervention Teacher and Education Resource Centre manager. I have lived and worked in New Zealand, Melbourne, Sydney, London and New York and have been lucky to travel all around the world. I came home to have two beautiful boys who mean the world to me.

Owning and running HeadStart is not just a ‘business’ for me – this is my one centre to devote all my time and energy – I am not interested in being part of a chain – what we have here cannot be replicated anywhere else, our centre is unique because of the teachers, the children and families and the community we are together.

I believe in a centre where both children and parents want to come and is a safe, loving and respectful environment that is fulfilling, enriching and supporting of all possible learning and growing opportunities. To make this happen, I am lucky to have amazing staff working with me, without their expertise, knowledge and support, HeadStart would not be the excellent centre it is. Their dedication in providing an outstanding educational programme and learning environment is evident throughout the centre and in the relationships they have with the children and their families.

Amanda Fourie

ECE & Early Intervention Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart September 2020

I love the joys of life such as being able to work with the next generation and empower them to
reach their full potential

Christo and I have three sons with families, including five beautiful grandchildren. We love nature
and the beauty and freedom we have to travel and live life to the fullest.
I love the joys of life such as being able to work with the next generation and empower them to
reach their full potential through playful social interactions, new experiences, and my favourite
science activities. I have a special interest in neurological development and especially the influence
of epigenetics on children’s behaviours.

Rika Straus

ECE Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart January 1999

I’m South African and moved to NZ in 1997 and have been a NZ Citizen since 2008. I live and work in the same community and value this opportunity, as it helps me connect better with the children and families of HeadStart, who mostly live in the same area.

I have been teaching at HeadStart Childcare and Early Childhood Centre since 1999.

I initially trained in South Africa as a Pre School (Kindergarten) and a Junior Primary School Teacher (thus early childhood, new entrant, year one and two), but chose early childhood as a vocation in 1981. I still see it as a privilege to teach and learn alongside tamariki after all these years. Their honesty, sincerity and inquisitiveness have ensured a very rewarding career with no single day the same. I also value the individual strength each colleague brings to our learning environment as together we have created an unique place for children 2 – 5. In 2012 I up skilled to a Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Auckland, which enriched my teaching skills.

I believe in a holistic approach, but especially place high value on the social and emotional development/competence of children, as I see these aspects as the foundation for future success, independence, and competency.

My family is very important to me, I was married to Willem (unfortunately, he passed away in December 2021) and we are blessed with two children, Heinrich and Inge. Inge is a medical doctor, and her partner is Sam. Our son Heinrich moved to Australia with his wife Jen, where he is a computer programmer. They are the parents to Mitchell turning three in May 2022 and I’m joyful to announce that my second grandson is one the way in April 2022.

I love road trips, gardening, reading, walking, and tramping. I have three kittens to keep me company (Benny, Frankie, Charlie) . I love cold and rainy weather, as I have loads of energy on days like that! I treasure nature and all the creatures in it.  It is therefore important to me to grow children’s awareness, passion, and interest in the important role they will play as future guardians(kaitiaki), of our natural environment.

Lucy Presnall

Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart January 2017

I love having the opportunity to be a teacher to support children grow in confidence and build their self-esteem.  I enjoy discovering children’s passions and using this to create strong trusting relationships.

I love having the opportunity to be a teacher to support children grow in confidence and build their self-esteem.  I enjoy discovering children’s passions and using this to create strong trusting relationships. The relationships allow me to encourage children to take risks and challenge themselves and through this become competent individuals ready for life – long learning.


I started teaching in 2002 and gained by Diploma in teaching ECEin 2006 and have been in various teaching roles.  I love working in a supportive team environment with passionate teachers. I am married and 2 children who bring me great joy and challenges which allows me to be a supportive person to parents as well.

Rachael Shingles

ECE Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart November 2016, Relief Teacher from September 2020

I have a passion for learning and love to share that passion with others. I love travel and learning and exploring new things and places.

I have a passion for learning and love to share that passion with others. I love travel and learning and exploring new things and places. My teaching philosophy is one of respect and valuing the uniqueness of each child and encouraging them to follow their inquisitive nature’s. I was born and raised in West Auckland. I have two children who both attended HeadStart when they were preschoolers.

Teaching history: I first started teaching in 2000, while studying and gaining my Bachelor of Business And diploma of Teaching. After travelling and having children I went back to university and gained my bachelor of teaching in ECE. I started teaching at HeadStart in 2016.

Kim Nelson

Centre Chef

Joined Headstart January 2019

I’m a qualified chef who started a cooking apprenticeship in 1982 earning a London City and Guilds qualification and then worked in small restaurants to large hotels working my way up the ranks to Head Chef.

I’m a qualified chef who started a cooking apprenticeship in 1982 earning a London City and Guilds qualification and then worked in small restaurants to large hotels working my way up the ranks to Head Chef.


I’m married to Sangeeta and we have two children. Gabriel and Jaya, who both attend High school. My son Gabriel plays softball for the the Roosters and also umpires games when needed, and my daughter does dancing including Ballet, jazz, lyrical and troup competitions.

I was a hands on dad when our children were born and attended all of the day care and school trips and it was during these very early years I realised babies and toddlers weren’t as scary as I first thought. In fact, I loved being around these little people that I became the primary caregiver while Sangeeta went back to work.


When the opportunity to be the centre chef here at Headstart came about through a mutual friend I thought that working around children all day was something I could quite easily do and seeing these little people greet me in the morning is a great way to start the day and is food for my soul.


My interests outside of work include charcoal BBQing, Hot Rods, American cars and PC video games. Saturday evening at the Nelson household usually means movie night with the kids.


ECE Teacher Qualified and Provisional Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart January 2022

I have lived in Auckland my whole life, growing up in West Auckland. I love to garden and have lots of house plants, although I am still learning to take care of them! I also enjoy puzzles, board games and reading (especially Margaret Atwood or Kurt Vonnegut novels!).

I am also learning to play the guitar. I live with my partner and my cat Monika. Family is very important to us so we spend a lot of time with both our families as well whenever we can.

I have a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education. I started my teaching journey working in West Auckland centres before moving to the North Shore for a couple of years and teaching there. Now that I’m back living in West Auckland, I am extremely happy to call HeadStart Childcare Centre my home.

I have been working in early childhood education for 8 years now and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.  I sincerely love being a part of children’s lives and being able to support their learning journey in these first few years. My teaching philosophy focuses on holistic development with an emphasis on emotional and social development. For me, this means supporting children’s whole development (emotional, physical, cognitive, social, spiritual) in order to connect to the world around them. It is also important for me to foster curiosity and encourage the exploration of different interests as this can help support a child’s lifelong love of learning.

It is also important for me to incorporate biculturalism into my practice as there is a wealth of knowledge I can learn from each individual and their families. I support and honour Te Tiriti Te Waitangi and its guiding principles. I strive to protect and practice te ao Māori and te reo Māori within my practice.

Tatiana Watene

Head Teacher – ECE Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart January 2017

I was born and raised in New Zealand and have always had a passion for child development and early education. I graduated with my Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) in 2016 and started working at HeadStart in 2017.

I am proud to be the Head teacher, and work alongside an inspiring team of teachers who are passionate and committed to providing high quality education and care. Each teacher brings a wealth of knowledge and skills, which keeps me learning and thriving in my role… together we make an awesome team!

Seeing the child through a holistic lens, allows me to understand the whole child and celebrate their uniqueness. I love empowering children to grow and learn in their own way, capable and confident in themselves and the strengths that they contribute to the world. I am passionate about learning through play and fostering social and emotional skills, resilience is key!

Tuakana – teina or peers learning from one another, works particularly well in our multi age environment. The positive dispositions we observe from these interactions builds successful foundation skills for building relationships and friendships with others. I love being apart of these warm moments, where children learn and grow from each other.

Outside of work, I love walks in nature, travelling the world and our beautiful country, markets, health, wellness, animals and quality time with family. I can’t wait to meet you and your little one(s) and welcome them into our HeadStart family!

Mi Hee Jang

ECE Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart May 2005

My love for teaching allows me to be part of a child’s life and reap the rewards of seeing them grow. I also love meeting a variety of people and develop cultural awareness.

My interests include reading, cooking, fishing, jigsaw puzzles and playing the guitar. I’ve often been described as creative, happy, healthy and friendly around children. My favourite areas of teaching are creative building, science experiments, exploring natural environments and motivating children to find their own interests.


I am qualified in teaching and received my B Ed in Early Childhood Education from AUT in 2004. I was born in Korea and have lived in New Zealand since 1996. I really enjoy my life as a teacher because children always give me happiness and it is so rewarding

Headstart Childcare

Christine Lee-Hardwick

ECE Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart February 2022

In 2016, I completed my Bachelor of Education (teaching) specialising in Early Childhood Education at the University of Auckland and jumped straight into teaching.

I enjoy every day that is spent working alongside children and their families to ensure they have the best possible start to their education journey.

I was born and raised in Te Atatū South and now live in Massey with my husband, Ben. I’m Malaysian Chinese and can speak conversational Mandarin. With the help of my family, I’m also learning Cantonese and Hokkien.

My spare time is spent outdoors and on adventures such as going on walks, swimming, paddle boarding, and fishing. I also love to cook and spend time with my family. I am passionate about sustainability and doing what we can to look after our environment.

I value learning through play, as well as supporting holistic development. Seeing children thrive in their early years as confident young people is what I love most about teaching. It is so very rewarding for me to support them in making discoveries, trying new things, and developing socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I feel so proud when children leave our centre, with the skills and right attitude for lifelong learning.

Janie Hemphill

Primary Teacher Qualified and Full Teacher Certification

Joined Headstart July 2003, Relief Teacher from November 2021

I am a teacher because I enjoying watching our young friends gather confidence in an exciting environment.

The special moments when a child discovers something and the wonder on their faces makes it all worthwhile!  My favourite areas to teach are where the children are and believe children’s interests spark the learning. I graduated in with my teaching qualification in 2002 but I have been teaching since my first daughter attended Playcentre starting in 1980!


Outside of work I enjoy living on my little farm with the chickens horses and cats. I am often found at a horse show supporting my daughter and her students. I also love going to the movies, the beach, and traveling around this beautiful country I call home. My oldest daughter and grandchildren live in the South Island so it is a destination most loved! I have lived most of my life in Aotearoa/New Zealand but was born in the U.S.A. and lived in Canada from the ages of 9 to13. We arrived in Auckland a month before my 14th birthday. We lived in Coromandel and then moved to Auckland which is still my home.

Amber Rimmer

Clean up Person

Joined Headstart November 2013

I have been working at Headstart Childcare for eight years.  I work in the afternoon as the end of day person. I love working at the centre and seeing the children

When I arrive and they say Hi to me.  I like watching the children play and enjoy themselves.

I also have a volunteer role at the Massey Hospice shop where I work one morning per week.

I participate in sports with Special Olympics Waitakere taking part in swimming and 10 pin bowling.

I also dance and perform with Starjam.

At the weekends I like hanging out with my friends, going shopping, movies, and bowling. I like watching Netflix and Disney Plus and listening to music at home.

I am the middle sibling in my family. My family is very important to me.

Coco Li

Relief Teacher, Unqualified

Joined Headstart July 2021

I’m from Beijing China and I’ve been living in the Auckland since summer of 2015. I used to be an accountant working for a telecommunication company. After having a child, my family moved to New Zealand.

Now my 12-year old son studies at Marina View School. Since I joined the HeadStart team last year, I realized I loved this job from the bottom of my heart. Growing up healthily, merrily and harbouring a happy childhood are the best gifts that all children deserve. So I love to accompany children to help them solve problems, conquer difficulties and explore new things. Moreover, I am keen on supporting them to become self-confident and independent individuals by learning and playing. Also, I enjoy the time with them very much. Outside of work and family, I’m a travel lover. In 2017, I went on a road trip to south island for two weeks. Apart from travel, I like to draw, listen to music and work in my small garden. Swimming is my favourite sport. Working here will provide me a solid foundation to become a qualified teacher in the future.

HeadStart Childcare


Proud to be locally owned and operated, HeadStart is an important part of the Hobsonville community, helping grow the hearts and minds of children for over 25 years.

Our hours of operation 7.30am – 6.00pm

Visit us at 193 Hobsonville Road, Hobsonville, Auckland 0618 or call us 09 416 4300