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.
Karen Hamilton

Years 0 – 3 | Karen Hamilton

Hi, I’m Karen and I am from Northern Ireland. I came to New Zealand as a backpacker and I fell in love with Tauranga, then I fell in love with my now husband.  We live in Tauranga with our 2 cats- Patrick and Vincent aka Toot. 

I am creative and I enjoy hands on activities that explore our senses. I come from an Art and Design background and I am passionate about using creativity to access and explore learning across the curriculum.

I believe curiosity is our natural path toward discovery and development. When I walked into Matahui school, I felt at home with the beautiful balance of core learning wrapped in inquiry that encourages the child to flourish in a way that best suits them. The small class size creates a warm and nurturing environment for children to grow.

In my spare time I enjoy dabbling in my garden and DIY projects around the house. I am always excited to take on new tasks and work things out, it is a tremendous feeling when it all comes together. 

My goal as a teacher is to help children become confident in themselves and to discover their love of learning.


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.

Kathryn pic

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

Marketing | Kristine Aitchison

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.

Office Administration | Abbie Buskirk

Hi, I’m Abbie and I’m the office administrator at Matahui School. I moved back to New Zealand from Orlando, Florida in 2021 with my husband, son and two dogs, we now live in Omokoroa. We absolutely love living here and we are taking advantage of the more relaxed lifestyle and our proximity to the beach. I have a Bachelor of Media Studies, prior to this I worked in the hospitality industry both here and in the USA. I am thoroughly enjoying working at Matahui School and being a part of its magic, it is such an amazing environment. 

Board of Trustees

Craig McCullough - Chairperson

Stephanie Hume

Andrew Dallas

Andrew George

Mary Woods - Principal

For information on enrolments...

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