Mary Woods Matahui School Principal

Principal | Mary Woods

My name is Mary Woods and I feel very honoured to be the principal of Matahui School. I have been teaching for 18 years and bring to Matahui School experience in teaching students who have a diverse range of learning styles and attributes. I have specialised in teaching gifted and talented children. I have worked in the Bay of Plenty for all of my teaching career mainly at our largest intermediate schools. During my teaching career, I have led many areas, these include IT strategic planning, implementing digital programmes, Science, Future Problem Solving, Literacy and Mathematics. I have taken groups of students to the United States of America to represent New Zealand at the Future Problem Solving Internationals which was an amazing experience. Science and Future Problem Solving are areas of passion for me, often within these areas students gain an understanding of real global issues and how they can play an important role in improving humankind. I enjoy seeing children flourish in a supportive environment in which they can develop their specific gifts and talent. I have recently moved to the Pahoia area with my husband Jim and we are loving the warm community. We have two daughters and three grandchildren. We enjoy camping and outdoor experiences. We also love growing our own food and planting New Zealand native trees.

Donna McDonald Matahui School Primary Teacher

Years 0 – 3 | Donna McDonald

Hi. My name is Donna McDonald. I joined the staff here at Matahui School in May 2018. I enjoy being a mum to Ella who is four and Louis who is two. We live on a beautiful property right here in Katikati. We love growing all our own produce and have started our own blueberry, strawberry and raspberry farm. Prior to teaching at Matahui School, I taught at a wonderful school in Tokoroa for four years. Matahui School is a safe, warm and inclusive family environment. The staff at Matahui School work well as a team to meet children’s individual needs. The small class sizes are wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoy creating a coherent, warm and engaging learning environment for my students.


Years 4 – 6 | Colleen Brink

Hi, my name is Colleen. I am a mother to two daughters and a stepmom to two boys. We are an active family, busy with a wide range of sports including surfing, surf lifesaving and yoga. I love a good book, photography, gardening and spending time with my family and friends. I am originally from Zimbabwe, and immigrated to New Zealand with my family when I was 16. I completed my schooling and worked on a dairy farm in the Waikato before studying primary school teaching. I returned to Africa to build and run a small school in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia for children aged 2 – 10 years old. I managed a safari camp while I was there, as well as teaching and working as a safari guide. I returned to NZ, and worked as a zero waste educator before working as an ECE teacher. I have completed my qualifications as a Level 3 Forest School Leader. I have been working as a forest school teacher in Cambridge for the last three years working with children aged 3- 6 years old.  I love working with all the different age groups, watching them explore, discover and create. I especially enjoy teaching children about wildlife and nature, sharing my passion for conservation and sustainability. My goal as a teacher is to help children to become successful lifelong learners, who are confident, independent and resilient.

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Years 7 & 8 | Kathryn Burtenshaw

Kia Ora, my name is Kathryn Burtenshaw and I am excited to join the Matahui School community, teaching the Kauri class of year’s 7 and 8. I have been teaching for 22 years in a range of roles from head of department of PE, health and EOTC at Tongariro High School, year’s 7 and 8 at Ilminster Intermediate, Gisborne and Taupo Intermediate, and more recently, I was teaching the year 5 and 6 students at Katikati Primary School. I have an extensive background in outdoor education. I instructed at The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) for many years, running adventure challenge programmes, including rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, tramping, mountaineering, abseiling, first aid and bush skills around the Tongariro National Park. I am passionate about seeing young people reach their potential, challenge themselves and discover new learning. I have a holistic approach to teaching and learning, and am passionate about education outside the classroom.

Christine D Music Teacher Christine Deschamps

Music & French | Christine Deschamps

In 2006 I moved back to NZ with my family after 12 years of living on small French islands. I have taught music for many years and my path led me back to Matahui School where I had been involved in the very early days. I have a classical piano background (LTCL) and am a qualified primary teacher. My style of music teaching has been very influenced by both the Yamaha and the Orff pedagogy, through which I have developed a belief that everyone is musical and that we are all better off if we have not only music, but all of the performing arts in our lives.

I am a fluent French speaker and also have the role of teaching French to all classes at Matahui School. I am responsible for organising a Tahitian exchange offered every two years to our year 7 and 8 students, an experience which is a highlight for those who take part. My husband (who is French) and I have two daughters in their 20’s. When I’m not teaching, you will find me either at my sewing machine or in the garden. I’m a country girl and love living on our 10 acres in Whakamarama.

Kristine Aitchison

Administration and Marketing | Kristine Aitchison

Away on maternity leave. Hi, I’m Kristine and I’m the marketing manager/administrator/grants coordinator at Matahui School. I am fairly new to the Bay of Plenty, having moved down from the big smoke (Auckland) to the friendly shores of Omokoroa in December 2019 with my partner – Luke, my very energetic 3-year-old – Gaige, and our equally active Doberman/Labrador cross – Mowgli. So far, we love living close to the beach and are making the most of the relaxed, friendly lifestyle. I have a Bachelor of Communications and over six years’ experience working in the not-for-profit and commercial sectors in marketing and communications. Prior to this, I worked in the tourism industry. I am in the office, based at reception on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s.


Administration and Marketing | Debbie Allan

Kia Ora, my name is Debbie, I live on a small lifestyle property in Whakamarama with my husband and our three adventurous boys, Peter(11), David(9) and Jamie(8). We have recently returned from our seven-month adventure around Australia and are now settling back to our rural community at Whakamarama. Where I continue to be actively involved within the community Treasurer for our local Hall, and at School, where I help coach my son’s school Netball team.  My family and I enjoy a relaxed and sustainable lifestyle on our small property where I love to potter around in my garden.

My boys continue to amaze me with how the life experiences they gained from our Australia travels have enrich their learning, so I can easily identify with Matahui’s learning approach with Learning thru Play, Forest School and Education Outside the Classroom.

I look forward to being part the Matahui School family and assisting the teachers, students and their families and will in the office from Wednesday to Friday covering general admin and marketing duties while Kristine is away on Maternity Leave.

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Business Administration | Catherine Maclean

Hi, I’m Catherine Maclean and I’m the Business Manager here at Matahui School. My husband and I moved to the Western Bay earlier this year and we absolutely love it here! We have family close by and the environment down here is magic. It’s warm, sunny and beautiful! We enjoy exploring different places to walk, with the dog as much as possible. I have also recently become a marriage celebrant and love the joy that role entails.

I worked in Finance in advertising agencies for over 20 years so coming to this inspirational rural school has been a wonderful change.

Board of Trustees

Ruth Butter – Chairperson

Paula O’Brien

Fred Willis

Win Cordell

Mary Woods – Principal