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.


Rika Straus

Head Teacher – Registered and Qualified Teacher

I am from South Africa, but have been a NZ Citizen since 2008. I am delighted to work and live in the same community.

I initially trained in South Africa as a Pre School (Kindergarten) and a Junior Primary School Teacher 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. In my role as Head Teacher I have come to celebrate the individual strength each team member brings to our learning environment.


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


I have up-skilled to a Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Auckland in 2012. It was a joyous occasion as I graduated with my son, who completed a degree in computer science.


My family is very important to me, I am married to Willem and we have two children, Heinrich and Inge. Inge is currently a student at the university of Auckland. I love road trips, gardening, reading, walking and tramping. I really like cold and rainy weather as I have loads of energy on days like that! I appreciate our environment and it is therefore important to me to grow children’s awareness of their role in our natural environment.

Mary Meredith

Registered and Qualified Teacher

I enjoy building relationships and working alongside tamariki to learn new experiences every day, singing, telling stories and art are some of my interests.

I was born in New Zealand and have lived in Panmure most of my life. I am a descendant from Te Arawa, Tapuika and moved to Taranaki for 4 years and have lived in Massey for the past 9 years. I have achieved my Diploma, Bachelor of Education and Full Teacher Registration and I have now been teaching for 15 years.

Li Yiding

Registered and Qualified Teacher

I believe being a teacher is not only to teach but also to learn from the children.

Born in Beijing, China and came to NZ in 2004, I have always been passionate about taking care of young children and am grateful to have had the opportunity to study early childhood education professionally in Auckland at the New Zealand Tertiary College. I like to try different kind of sports, enjoy music and art during my free time and love go to the beach with my dog Summer.

Hazel Xu

Registered and Qualified Teacher

Knowing that every child is unique and express themselves differently is important to me, it encourages me to look at things differently.

It is a rewarding career because I get to see the children learn and grow. I am a makeup, face and body artist on weekends and I love learning new languages – I am currently learning to speak Japanese and Te Reo.


Favourite areas of teaching includes the arts, science and technology. In 2015, I received my Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Teaching and I lived in China for 13 years before moving to New Zealand 8 years ago.

Courtney Seymour

Unqualified Teacher

I enjoy watching the children grow and develop especially when they proudly share their achievements.

I am currently untrained although I have been working at HeadStart for over a year in which the children have taught me so much. My personal hobbies including baking, fishing, rugby, boating and spending time with my family.


During my childhood my parents were rather community based, I was in girl guiding from 5 till 17, my father is the manager of a rugby team with which i was also involved.

Mi Hee Jang

Registered and Qualified Teacher

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

Janie Hemphill

Registered and Qualified Teacher

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.

Anne Ewen

Centre Chef

I enjoy the opportunity to be part of the growth and development of our children and to see them become the unique people they are.

Family and friends are important to me and movies and music are things I enjoy to indulge in. I have a knack for being attuned to the children and their needs and have been at HeadStart for nearly 19 years. 12 years on the floor as an unqualified teacher and for the last 7 years as the chef.


I have been part of the Massey community for 37 years and have brought up our three children in the same house my husband Rex and I built as a young married couple!

Amber Rimmer

Clean up Person

I love seeing the children when I arrive at work and they all say hi to me.

I work at HeadStart every afternoon. Every two weeks I do an activity with the children and my Polyem advisor. I volunteer at Henderson Hospice Shop for three hours every Wednesday and I participate in sports with Special Olympics, swimming and ten pin bowling. I also dance and perform with Star Jam.


I like hanging out with my friends, going shopping and bowling. I also enjoy reading and listening to music. I am a middle child and my family is very important to me.

Chris Diprose


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.

As the owner/operator of HeadStart Childcare and Early Education Centre along with my parents Geoff and Di Bunny. 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 20 years, as a nanny, teacher, Early Intervention Teacher and Education Resource Centre manager. I have lived and worked in New Zealand, Australia, London and New York and have been lucky to travel around the world.


Owning HeadStart is not just a ‘business’ for me – 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.


I am lucky to have amazing staff working for 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.

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