Te Mahuri - The Saplings

Age 3.5 - 6


Striving to ensure the tamariki of Te Māhuri feel heard, seen and loved the primary care philosophy of Old MacDonald’s is carried right through to our oldest tamariki. Honouring the gits each child brings with them from their whānau and the learning experiences of those earlier years, the kaiako of Te Māhuri believe that this is a time of growth centred around exploring, navigating and mastering the three literacies. This concept is introduced by Pennie Brownlee as the “developmental unfolding of the child” where people literacy, eco literacy and cultural literacy are explored.

As Kaiako in Te Mahuri we are in the privileged position to scaffold and support these literacies to evolve within our tamariki. Social competency or people literacy is what we consider this to be the greatest indicator for ‘school readiness’. This might look like our tamariki practicing and working through conflict resolution, negotiation, empathy, asking for help, turn taking, standing up for oneself and seeing from another’s perspective. Play is where this happens, it is, as Pennie says, the “laboratory for experimenting with people skills”. This unfolds in meaningful, unhurried conversations with our tamariki, in role modelling respectful communication, encouraging conflict resolution, sometimes taking a step back and letting this unfold without Kaiako intervention.

As the models for People Literacy, it is our Heart Intelligence that determines the climate for play. It is there, in that environment that we create with our hearts, that it becomes safe for experimentation to unfold and the foundations for formalised learning are created.

For a child it is in the simplicity of play that the complexity of life is sorted like puzzle pieces joined together to make sense of the world
— L.R Knost




You know you are truly an "outside the box" thinker when you're not even aware there ever was a box, you are so busy seeing what could be! Lisa gives 100% energy and effort to every person, problem and new possibility in front of her.

She enthusiastically opens young minds to all the wonder and possibility of exploring themselves through her can-do attitude, humour and thoughtfulness, and delights as bonds form, confidence grows, and children and their families flourish through what they learn.

An artist at heart, the smell of fingerpaint still transports her to her own childhood, and along with her teaching qualifications, she has completed art and aesthetics training for under-threes.

"It takes a village to raise a child" and Lisa loves supporting families to grow their children into great people. Together with her sister Jemma, they have built their own "family village" to help raise children Stella , Dylan and Blake ...allowing Lisa and partner Juan a chance to sneak away for plenty of salsa-dancing dates!



A man of many talents, outdoors man and family man, Anton, is the perfect person for the job when it comes to anything environmental. Alongside his wife Marina, Anton cherishes his 4 children; Michelle, Elizabeth, James and George, which naturally means you can’t have a chat without a splurge of Anton’s outrageous wit and a Dad joke of two! As well as being a qualified Early Childhood Teacher, Anton has a Diploma in Orchard Management, which means many trips to the Orchard with groups of children to prune, plant and pick!

Anton’s appreciation for the environment has influenced many of our Old Mac’s children, teaching them how to love and care for the natural world around us. As well as caring for the environment, Anton enjoys teaching our tamariki about compassion and care for one another and admires the honestly and joy that comes from each of our children.



Lia is a real family girl, taking pride in each of her family members, as well as the values she grew up with, with a special place in her heart for Te Ao Māori.
If Lia’s not holding yoga sessions or running alongside our tamariki in the front paddock, she’s filling the classroom with laughter and joy. Lia lives each day to the fullest, like the time she kayaked beside a pod of Orcas in the Raglan harbour, or as a six year old abseiling off the Bridal Veil Falls.Lia loves the way children see the world and feels that she learns just as much from them as they do from her.

Lia loves the many wanderings of children, all the ‘why’ questions, the honesty, curiosity and the privilege of being a part of a child’s first few years of life! Lia is a deep thinker, incredibly in touch with her own emotions, and is always available for our tamariki to snuggle under her wing.



Jo is one of our darling saplings teachers - her gentle nature and calming presence makes her an ideal part of our dynamic teaching team. Calm, nurturing and empathetic are three words use to describe Jo and her practice. She believes in teaching children to be confident, speak up for themselves, ask questions, be themselves and try new things.

Jo has three children of her own, one of which who is following in her footpath and is a teacher in our Seedlings room.Her love for animals is so profound and she values all animals as sentient beings. She loves and embraces nature in her daily routines.

Jo loves her job as every day is exciting and slightly different to the last. She loves working alongside tamariki in their learning, ensuring that their day is fun and develop strong, competent children.

She prides herself in enabling children to develop a positive self-esteem and to believe in their own capabilities and abilities.



Warm-hearted, holistic care is the foundation of Kirsty’s teaching philosophy. Kirsty’s gentle touch and inviting presence makes her the ‘go-to’ for a cuddle teaches from the heart, gets ‘stuck in’ with the tamariki & isn’t afraid to get out there in the mud … a true resemblance of the Old Mac’s philosophy.

Kirsty has two sons herself, who are both at primary school and she is also juggling full time study and work - dedication is her middle name!

We are so delighted to have Kirsty apart of our Old Mac’s Whaanau.



Craig…. the outdoor enthusiast here at Old Mac’s! There’s not such thing as too much rain with Craig’s hut building and knot tying abilities. Craig’s outdoor education knowledge and experience makes him the perfect mix in our diverse team. '

Craig works closely alongside our Old Mac’s Exploring Nature Programme and our Ngahere Programme. This means that he is the man on the job when it comes to campfires, knot tying lessons and tree climbing.

Craig is also currently studying his Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Waikato aswell.

Thank you for being all that you are and all that you bring to Old Macs, Craig!