Mamatha Kumar, Centre Manager

A warm welcome to our Preschool! Looking into my background I am originally from India. I have been living in New Zealand for the last 18 years with my husband, son and daughter who are now 26 and 21 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 worked alongside Justin, Rebecca and the team in setting up Little Engines I consider it a privilege to be working in a wonderful, supportive team environment where commitment and passion for the Montessori philosophy and genuine love for children is fully embraced. 19 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, whanau and teachers to ensure the best possible outcomes for the children.


Annie Yip, Teacher

Hi! My name is Annie. I am originally from Hong Kong and moved to New Zealand with my family in the late 80s. I completed my high schooling here at Selwyn College.  I gained my degree of Bachelor of Education (Early childhood education with Montessori specialty) in Auckland University of Technology. After obtaining my degree, I traveled to the west coast of the United States and had opportunities to visit several Montessori schools over there, which truly opened my eyes to the wonders of Montessori Education.

For me, the Montessori method of education is so powerful in the way it connects with 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 heavily impacts on our later lives. I am really lucky to join the Little Engines team which allows me to facilitate and support your wonderful children to explore and discover as they continue to proceed along their own unique learning journey.

Outside Little Engines, I love cooking, reading, learning new sports and travelling. One of  dreams is to travel round the world and so far, I have visited 9 countries.


Jaylene Hogan, 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.

Neil Little Engines BW

Neil Cameron, Teacher

Returning to the classroom following an earlier period of teaching in the new entrant classroom and following a University career in Art & Design, I was drawn to return to the classroom and the Montessori philosophy and method through my own son’s beautiful journey through a Montessori preschool. 

I have an interest in the male presence in the early childhood environment and the modelling of warmth and sensitivity. I aspire to the qualities of being interesting to the children, fun, calm and dignified as a way of being. What better place to be than the Montessori classroom at Little Engines to explore, share and learn these qualities with my colleagues and your children.


Tui Parkinson, Teacher

Kia Ora, my name is Tui Parkinson, I have a Kiwi, Italian background which has given me the wonderful opportunity to develop a passion for travelling the world.

Being a Montessori teacher I love imparting the knowledge that I have learnt through these worldly experiences, such as geography, the arts, history and culinary adventures.

As a 21 year old I began my journey as a Montessori teacher, exploring the comprehensive facets of Montessori education in Wellington and here in Auckland. It is an astounding experience to be a part of a child’s learning journey. Observing them grow and develop, mastering skills through the guidance of our Montessori approach to education.


Meng Chee Tan, Teacher Aide

Hello, my name is Meng Chee and my role is to assist the teachers at Little Engines to ensure that their days flow smoothly. To contribute to the Little Engines team is a lovely opportunity to experience the Montessori philosophy, so close to my personal values. My encounter with Montessori education started way back in early 2000 when I enrolled my two girls in a Montessori preschool in Singapore. 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.

I have actively engaged in volunteer work, mostly with young children and teachers, since 2005. I am grateful that such experiences have enriched my life tremendously. I look forward to supporting the teachers to create a conducive environment for your child’s learning journey at Little Engines.