Let us treat them [children], therefore, with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.
– Maria Montessori –

Meet our Team


Mamatha Kumar, Centre Manager / Curriculum Co-ordinator

A warm welcome to our Preschool!

I am originally from India and have been living and teaching in New Zealand for the last 21 years with my husband, son and daughter who are now 29 and 24 years old. My husband and I researched Montessori when choosing a Preschool for my daughter. Seeing my daughter thrive in a Montessori environment inspired me and I wanted to know more about its philosophy. I completed my Montessori Diploma and moved to New Zealand where my journey began as a Montessori Teacher. In discovering Montessori, many rewarding opportunities emerged for a very enjoyable and satisfying role in early childhood. I was convinced to pursue further studies and completed my ECE qualification.

In recent years my learning journey has progressed further as I continue to mentor and guide ECE teachers to gain their full registration by engaging with them in professional dialogue, and reflective critical thinking. My teaching experience with children has convinced me that children have the potential to reach amazing heights given an optimum environment. I love to support children in their early developmental years and see all the great strides they make in their learning. The little ones teach me so much about living, learning and laughter. Having helped establish Little Engines Montessori, I continue to work alongside a supportive team of teachers where passion for the Montessori philosophy and genuine love for children is fully embraced.

20 years after my discovery I continue to be passionate about improving educational opportunities for children and look forward to serving the community in providing an enriched programme in partnership with you. At Little Engines I would like to maximise the collaborative relationships with parents, whānau and teachers to ensure the best possible outcomes for the children.

Annie, Yee Man Yip, Registered Teacher

Hi, my name is Annie. I am originally from Hong Kong and moved to New Zealand with my family in the late 80’s. I completed my high schooling here at Selwyn College. I gained my degree of Bachelor of Education (with Montessori specialty) in Auckland University of Technology and achieved my full registration in early 2018.

Before starting my career in Little Engines in early 2016, I had an opportunity to travel to the west coast of the United States and had some visits to several local Montessori schools over there, which truly opened my eyes to the wonders of Montessori education.

From my perspective, the Montessori method of education is such a powerful way to connect children’s natural curiosity and innate desire to learn. I believe that childhood is the most happy, memorable and influential period in one’s life, which impacts on our later lives very much. I am lucky to be part of the Little Engines teaching team which provides me with plenty of professional development opportunities to consolidate and extend my knowledge and allows me to facilitate and support our wonderful children to explore, to discover as they continue to proceed along their own unique learning journey.

Outside Little Engines, I love spending my time cooking, reading, learning new sports and travelling. One of my dreams is to travel round the world and so far, I have achieved 9 countries and will be more in the future.


Jaylene Hogan, Registered Teacher

Hello! My name is Jaylene Hogan. I was born in the Los Angeles area of California, yet I have lived in New Zealand since 1988! I have been actively involved in Montessori education for the past 28 years as a parent volunteer, assistant teacher and as a teacher. I’ve taught at Wa Ora Montessori School in Lower Hutt for 14 years, in Honolulu, Hawaii for 3 years before spending 8 1/2 years at Marshwood Montessori in St Heliers. Having originally trained in the Montessori method, I also completed my Bachelor of Teaching – Early Childhood in 2014. I am so very happy to be a part of the Little Engines community and to be of service to every child, parent and teacher to create an environment conducive to each child to learn and grow in the most positive, nurturing way.

My daughter Gayle and her husband Julien live close by. She is involved in producing television and documentary films and Julien is a musician and multi-media artist. I recently became a grandma too!

When not teaching or studying, I love to go for beach walks, cook vegetarian meals, and this year, hope to learn paddle boarding! I look forward to lots of learning at Little Engines and getting to know each of you.

Leona Hamagawa, Teacher

Greetings, I am very excited to welcome you and your children to Little Engines Montessori. I am originally from the Philippines where I gained my Bachelor’s Degree in Education.  Shortly after finishing university, I moved to Okinawa, Japan where I obtained my international Montessori qualification and where I have also worked in Montessori schools for 15 years of my 22-year teaching experience thus far.

What keeps me coming back to school each day to welcome the children is knowing that each child will move on to achieve greater and bigger things for themselves and for the greater good.  It is truly a privilege to be a part of this process of being able to be involved with young children, to guide and direct them towards their own individual path in their journey of self-discovery.

Outside Little Engines, I enjoy running, cooking, movies, spending time with family.  I also speak Japanese.  I am a happy and proud mother of 3 children – 2 sons and a daughter.  My husband, Jun, is half Japanese.


Mayanka Kumar, Registered Teacher

Kia Ora koutou! My name is Mayanka, I was born in India and raised in New Zealand from a tender age of three. I am proud to have been a part of Little Engine’s journey from our foundation days and I have recently completed a Bachelor in Education (Teaching) in Early Childhood at the University of Auckland. Montessori’s philosophical approach to learning holds a special place in my heart as it has played a significant role in my personal education experience, having attended a Montessori between the ages of two to nine years old, here in New Zealand. I take pride in having been a child of Montessori and continue to see the limitless benefits it has had on my personal life. I am currently working to further my Montessori training, to support and optimise our tamariki’s potential and nurture their love for life-long learning.

I am passionate about education in the early years as I believe that these years are fundamental for children as they begin to develop their own unique personalities and make sense of the world around them. I believe that all children are competent and confident individuals and endeavor to foster their independence.

I am enthusiastic about translating my love for Montessori to our tamariki, making resources, as well integrate my passion for dancing and arts and crafts through my teaching. I look forward to working alongside our little engineers and guiding them through their learning journey.

Meng Chee Tan, Teacher Aide / Administrator

Welcome to Little Engines ! My family and I moved to New Zealand from Singapore. I have also lived in Australia for several years where I gained my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.

My previous work experiences were related to electronics engineering, software development and IT management. I was also an active volunteer, working mostly with young children and teachers since 2005. I am grateful that such experiences have enriched my life tremendously.

My encounter with Montessori education started way back in early 2000 when I enrolled my two girls in a Montessori preschool. Driven by my curiosity and fascination with how focused the children engaged in their work, I decided to pursue Montessori early childhood education and subsequently obtained my diploma in 2003.

My role at Little Engines is to assist the teachers to ensure that their days flow smoothly, as well as assisting the Centre Manager in administration work. Being part of the Little Engines team is a lovely opportunity to experience the Montessori philosophy, so close to my personal values. I look forward to working with the teachers to provide a nurturing and purposeful environment for your child’s learning journey at Little Engines.


Contact us, book a tour or join our waiting list,
we’d love to hear from you!

We understand that your child’s education & care is a priority and that choosing the right centre can be a big decision. We would be delighted to share in your child’s learning journey. Feel welcome to contact us in whichever way is most convenient for you, or visit our centre and meet our Teaching Team!

Get settled & ready before the New Year.
Enrol & start with us before December 15th 2020 and receive a
complete fee holiday
until January 31st 2021.
Ages yrs.
Contact us to find out more:
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until 31st January 2021.
zero fees
until January 31st 2021.
Ages yrs.
Contact us to find out more:
2 - 5
Fee Holiday