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 16 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. I have worked in the Bay of Plenty 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. During this time, I have taken groups of students to the United States of America to represent New Zealand at the Future Problem Solving Internationals which is 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 a situation for humankind. I enjoy seeing children flourish in a supportive environment in which they can develop their specific gift and talent.
I have recently moved to the Pahoia area with my husband Jim and we are loving the warm community. We have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. We enjoy camping and outdoor experiences. We also love growing our own food and planting New Zealand native trees.
Year 0 & 1, 2 | Donna McDonald
Hi. My name is Donna McDonald. I joined the staff here at Matahui School in May 2018 to team teach with Christine Croskery. 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, I taught at a wonderful school in Tokoroa for four years.
Matahui is a safe, warm and inclusive family environment. The staff at Matahui work well as a team to met children’s individual needs. The small class sizes are wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoy working along Christine in creating a coherent, warm and engaging learning environment.
Year 3 & 4 | 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.
Year 5 & 6 | Alison Chissell
Hi, I am married to Dave and we have two energetic boys who are in their last years of college. We currently live on an avocado block in Te Puna. We love spending time outside and being active in our local environment. I am an avid reader who often finds it hard to put down a great book, and I enjoy a range of artistic pursuits. Gardening and home renovations are huge interests and I love working on new projects.
It is inspiring to be part of an energetic and highly innovative team. I believe in fostering warm positive relationships with every individual child so they feel safe in our creative learning environment. My class is engaging and children are motivated to succeed at their level.
Year 7 & 8 | Andrew Sharpe
Husband to Katrina and father of two spirited fun loving daughters. We have recently moved from Australia to New Zealand and I am excited to be teaching at Matahui School. I have 16 years teaching experience within Primary and Intermediate State, Independent and International School systems in Australia and Singapore. I have held a range of leadership positions in the areas of curriculum and well being which include Head of Faculty HPE and Director of Campus Sport. I bring to Matahui many experiences in the area of EOTC, which include taking students into many challenging and remote locations. One of the most amazing expeditions I was able to take students on was in the spectacular Marka Valley of Ladakh, India, where students trekked to heights of 5,200 meters experiencing the culture of the incredibly warm and hospitable Ladakhi people. I enjoy taking students outside the classroom, providing opportunities for their development as a whole person in an environment that challenges and inspires. I also enjoy working collaboratively with staff and families to support young people to grow and develop as they strive for their highest. My family and I love to spend our time in the outdoors camping, exploring, learning and just having fun, especially if it involves water sports or the mountains.
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 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. 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.
Administration and Marketing | Kristine Aitchison
Hi, I’m Kristine and I’m the marketing manager/administrator/grants coordinator at Matahui School. I am new to the Bay of Plenty, having moved down from the big smoke (Auckland) to the friendly shores of Omokoroa in December with my partner – Luke, my very energetic 3-year-old – Gaige, and our equally active Doberman/Labrador cross – Mowgli. So far, we love living closer to the beach and are making the most of the relaxed, friendly lifestyle. I have a Bachelor of Communications and over 6 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 will be based at reception on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and look forward to meeting you all.
Business Administration | Trish Rankin
Hi – I’m Trish and I really enjoy working as the Business Administrator for Matahui School with such awesome colleagues’ and in an amazing environment, it’s like working in a park. I was educated in Tauranga from the age of 8 at St Marys Convent then at the Tauranga Girls College and left Tauranga to find work in Auckland where I worked for Fernz Corporation for 35 years as their Employee Benefits Manager. The call of the Bay was too strong and in June 2015 Robert & I relocated back here and live in Omokoroa. I come from a large close-knit family and we do a lot together and are all very competitive and love camping and the outdoors. I have run 5 marathons, love walking the dog and really enjoy playing table tennis at the local Omokoroa Club. The children who attend Matahui School are really privileged to be part of such an amazing learning environment.
Board of Trustees
- Jonny Reay – Chairperson
- Samantha Ogden
- Suzanne Greaves
- Ruth Butter
- Danielle Ellis
- Mary Woods – Principal
- Alison Chissell – Staff Rep