Our Team

Suitcase stories provides a unique way for communities to foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers.  Given we are all new to the Auranga community, we thought this would be a great way to introduce you to the members of our team.

Each staff member has shown 5 objects to share with you; these are objects that best introduce us and our journey through life, what is important to us and what forms our identity.




Andrea Fulton - Tumuaki Principal
Andrea Fulton

Tumuaki Principal

  1. This ceramic tile was a gift from my whānau and reminds me of the goodness the world.
  2. Connection to nature is really important to me.  Short of packing a whole forest, this koru sculpture is small and light enough to fit in the pocket of my bag; based on the unfurling frond, symbolises new beginnings and growth.
  3. "You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose!" Dr Seuss. Running and hiking is a way I love to explore places and ideas!
  4. I came across the this bronze statue on my travels over twenty years ago. I carried it in my backpack to Timbuktu and back.  It has journeyed with me from home to home. I love her expression of freedom and gratitude. 
  5. I love my whānau and take my place as 'favourite Aunty" very seriously!
Angela Pilkington - Tumuaki Tuarua Deputy Principal
Angela Pilkington

Tumuaki Tuarua

Deputy Principal

  1. Running Shoes - Good shoes take you great places.
  2. Family Photo - He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
  3. Air Pods - Nothing keeps you company like an audio-book and sweet sounds. It's an experience!
  4. MRFC Jersey - Home away from home.
  5. Earrings - I only wear earrings on days that end with 'Y'.
Brooke Wallen - Kaiako / Teacher
Brooke Wallen

Kaiako / Teacher

  1. Headphones - Music, Dance and The Arts are what ignites my internal fire! 
  2. Family Photo - My whānau are my everything. I love them with all my heart.
  3. Puzzles - I revel in the face of any challenge and when not outside I need something to keep my brain busy. 
  4. Sneakers - I enjoy being outside and connected with nature, you will most likely find me out walking or at the beach.
  5. World Map - I love to travel and seek adventure. Finding a new experience in each day.
Osana Teevale-Crawley - Kaiako / Teacher
Osana Teevale-Crawley

Kaiako / Teacher

  1. Frame of one of my favourite Bible verses. In every circumstance my source of strength and help comes from my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Photos of my family. As well as being a wife, a mother, I am also a daughter, sister and aunty to my beautiful extended family. The love & support of a whanau is life’s greatest blessings.
  3. My Culture: I’m very proud of my Samoan/Chinese heritage. The foundation upon which I build my identity.
  4. Books: I love reading books about real heroes - inspirational people who overcome challenges & are great role models for anyone. Plus re-reading childhood favourites is also a real joy of mine!
  5. Lover of Music: I enjoy listening to all kinds of music especially the ‘oldies but goodies’ sounds! It instantly changes your mood & it’s a great stress reliever!
Rose Curin-Brown - Learning Support / SENCo Kaiako / Teacher
Rose Curin-Brown

Learning Support / SENCo

Kaiako / Teacher

  1. My korowai and pounamu are reminders of my journey of learning te reo Māori me ōna tikanga. My korowai also reminds me of my mum who presented it to me at my university graduation. 
  2. Pukapuka! I really enjoy reading, our bookshelves are full. I especially enjoy reading stories from other countries and learning about all the different cultures around the world. 
  3. My towel - I love swimming and being in, on and around the water. Swimming is a perfect way to calm down and reset. The sound of the waves crashing onto the beach always makes me feel happy. 
  4. Pictures of my whānau to make me smile at great memories. 
  5. My shoes - these are symbolic of how I like to travel, tramp, camp, walk, run and get out in the outdoors. This particular pair of shoes completed 100kms on the Oxfam Trail Walk.
Roya Timmo - Kaiako / Teacher
Roya Timmo

Kaiako / Teacher

  1. Paddock boots - an essential for the time that I spend with my horse, Batman, and they also remind me of childhood adventures through paddocks, swamps and gullies with my older brother Vince. 
  2. Sea glass - foraged from the rock pools at Mount Maunganui, this represents my love of the ocean and reminds me that good things take time! 
  3. Framed photo -  I adore this picture of my partner, Will, pulling a funny face on the day we first met many years ago. 
  4. Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism - a Christmas gift from my parents when I was 9 and still one of my all time favourite books, this one represents family and my lifelong love of reading. 
  5. The Picture of Dorian Gray - another book (I couldn’t resist), which combines a few things that I enjoy very much: the Victorian era, beautiful writing, and a bit of a spooky mystery!
Zoe Soppet - Kaiako / Teacher
Zoe Soppet

Kaiako / Teacher

  1. My dogs - My dogs are represented by these knitted toys my auntie made for me. I have two Dachshund x Poodles. Their names are Luna and Stella. They keep me active, make me laugh and help me wind down after work. 
  2. My Whānau - I am the 4th of 5 children. Even though we are now grown up and spread across the world and Aotearoa, my family have helped guide and support me to be the person I am today. 
  3. Gardening gloves - I love spending my free time in my vegetable garden or looking after my indoor plants. My gardening gloves help me stay grounded and appreciate the growth and life around me. 
  4. Books - I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. My all time favorite would have to be the first Harry Potter book. I have fond memories of sharing this story with my dad as a child, we would take turns reading the chapters. 
  5. Chocolate - Chocolate represents my sweet tooth. Unlike most teachers I have met, I don’t like the taste of coffee. So if you see me around with a hot drink, it will definitely be a hot chocolate!
Tracy Benjamin - Kaiako/Teacher
Tracy Benjamin


  1. This tree represents who I am, my roots are from South Africa which is where I come from but my adopted country Aotearoa, is my new home and where I'm blooming.

  2. This cross was a gift from my parents when they came over to visit in New Zealand, it represents my faith and that God is at the center of my journey in life.

  3. This key ring represents me as a kaiako in Primary School and the badge represents me as a kaiako in Early Childhood Education.

  4.  Two of my favourite things to do are listening to music and getting creative in the kitchen, mostly at the same time. 

  5. My whānau, they are my foundation and everything I do revolves around them. Traveling New Zealand is our favourite thing to do. 

Teagan Maihi - Kaiako/Teacher
Teagan Maihi


  1. Sunset - One of my favourite things to do each night (or whenever possible) is to catch the sunset and marvel at the colours and patterns. During summer evenings you will definitely find me on a hill watching the sun dip below the horizon.

  2. Key chain souvenir – my collection is getting quite heavy now, but it represents all the places I have been so far as well as the friends and memories I made there.

  3. Bluetooth Speaker - a symbol that music is a necessity in my life. I cannot go a day without listening to music.

  4.  My pounamu – I never leave home without wearing one of them. It makes me feel safe, protected and grounded.

  5. Skateboard – This is the current favourite of my many hobbies. It represents how I am eager to continue learning and try new things.

Chris Appleton - Kaiako/Teacher
Chris Appleton


  1. My Whānau (My Family): “Family is not an important thing. It's everything.” I cherish my amazing family and we spend a lot of time together, especially while our girls are young and growing up.

  2. My Shoes: Whether it be running shoes, walking shoes or  sports shoes, being active is important to me and has been for most of my life. “I think the most important thing is to keep active and to hope that your mind stays active.”.

  3. LEGO and STAR WARS: "With a bucket of Lego, you can tell any story. You can build an airplane or a dragon or a pirate ship - it's whatever you can imagine." I am a LEGO and STAR WARS nerd. It's a great way to spend my free time! 

  4.  My Kindle: "The cool thing about reading is that when you read a short story or you read something that takes your mind and expands where your thoughts can go, that's powerful." I enjoy reading and having a kindle means I can have a lot of books to choose from! 

  5. My Airpods - "One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say" I use my airpods to listen to podcasts, music and audio books, a great way to pass time.

Merillees Nicholls - Kaiako/Teacher
Merillees Nicholls


  1. My Te Ake is a symbol of  the unity and permanence of my close relationship with  my husband, family and friends.

  2. Sports gear has always been a part of my life. Whether it is a tennis racket, running/tramping shoes, pack, skis, golf clubs or croquet mallet.  They represent my desire to achieve my best physically, accept life’s challenges and interact positively with others.

  3. Books accompany me wherever I go. I have an eclectic taste from Harry Potter, the Hobbit, science fantasy, historical fiction and biographies.

  4.  Puzzles and games have always intrigued me. Word puzzles, chess, mahjong and preparing Quiz Nights for my community.

  5. Service to others completes my suitcase of achieving fulfillment in life. I enjoy working at hospice, trying to assist others in their daily dilemmas.

Pippa Bardrinarayanan - Admin
Pippa Bardrinarayanan


  1. Houseplant - I share a love of plants with so many of the amazing wahine in my life. This plant cutting was a gift from my sister. 
  2. Dog toys - Proud mum to four fur babies who bring so much joy and fun to our home. 
  3. Gardening tools - My favourite place to be is outside, pottering around in my garden with dogs in tow.
  4. Favourite saree - My husband is from Chennai, India. I love the bright vibrant colours of this saree. For me, wearing Indian dress is a celebration of our bi-cultural whānau.
  5. Name badge - Represents my background as a kaiako in ECE.

Rosina Woodroffe - Admin/Kaiāwhina
Rosina Woodroffe


  1. Sewing Kit - I love to sew my own clothes and the process of making something from scratch. I find it incredibly rewarding to come up with an idea and to make that vision come to life.  

  2. Notebooks- Writing is one of my passions, I enjoy creating stories and playing with words. Writing down my thoughts and feelings helps me to come up with solutions and understand myself better.

  3. Teddy- This is Teddy, he is my most precious possession and was the only thing apart from my handbag that I took with me when having to escape a house fire. I have had him since the day I was born and he has been so well loved he is missing fur and stuffing. He represents my love for my whānau and the connection I have to my childhood.

  4. Gumboots- Great for going on long walks around the farm I live on. I love being able to walk around and visit all the different animals, to look at the beauty of plants and trees and to feel connected to the natural world.

  5. A Stack of Books- I can never just stick to one at a time, I have to have several on the go! Reading is my happy place, I love to read fiction to experience life from different perspectives and non-fiction to learn about our world.

Rachael Kiliva - Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide
Rachael Kiliva

Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide

  1. Family - This is a photo of my family. Family is the most important part of my life and where I draw my love and strength from. 

  2. Gardening - Gardening is my way to relax and I find it very grounding. Some of my plants have been grown from cuttings off my grandparents plants, so my gardens are very special to me.

  3. Charm bracelet - I am very rarely seen without my bracelets. Each charm on my bracelet has been given to me or symbolize someone. So when I wear it I feel as though I have my loved ones with me.

  4. Music - although I can not sing or dance too well haha. Music is a big part of mine and my families life. We always have Music playing when ever we can. Music is very therapeutic.

  5. Django and walks. This is my Dog Django, he is my walking buddy. I love getting out, clearing my head, getting fresh air and having  a nice big walk with him.

Xynthea Gutierrez - Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide
Xynthea Gutierrez

Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide

  1. I find solace in reading a good book. It is something I have learned from my father, and I made sure to lead my daughter to do the same because a child who reads will be an adult who thinks. 

  2. I find crystals and their metaphysical properties interesting thus leading to a small collection of these pretty little things.

  3. My family is everything especially at a time when all we have is each other.

  4. We have two dogs back at home in the Philippines named Sandy and Hero. They are the best non-human companions anyone could ever have.

  5. Listening to music of any genre has a soothing effect on me, and it helps me control my emotions.

Imogen Pilkington - Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide
Imogen Pilkington

Kaiāwhina/Teacher Aide

  1. My people. My whanau.

    ‘Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini’

    My success should not be bestowed on me alone, as it was not individual success but success of a collective.

  2. Legos. A new found hobby you can catch me often indulging in.

  3. Sunrises. My little reminders that every day is new and to appreciate the little things in our busy lives.

  4. Sports Stadiums. Where you can find me in the winter months supporting my favourite footy teams. One of my favourite places to unwind.

  5. Home. This is my paradise. A place I travel to with my go to people, to regenerate and recoup. A space we were gifted to end the year off but also to welcome a new year. It’s a tradition. Welcome to Manaia, Coromandel. 

    My home.