totara3.jpgAbout Te Whare Totara

The name Totara was chosen for our pre-school room because it symbolises respect.  Respect for our children, whanau and teachers is a cornerstone  of our centre values. Just like the creatures of the forest, we aim to empower our community of learners to learn and grow.


When your children come to Totara Pre-School, they will encounter teachers with passions in a wide range of areas.  Through planning and review our teachers consistently strive for excellence in our programme  so that we extend our children's knowledge and interests while respecting our whanau's aspirations for their children's learning.


We have a strong Transition to School programme.  This involves encouraging literacy and numeracy knowledge, independence and respect for others.  We received very positive feedback from the schools about our children's knowledge and willingness to learn, and their general readiness for school.


 We recognise our children's interests and skills and promote their sense of personal achievement. We aim for them to have a sense of "who they are" and a perception of themselves as capable learners- able to acquire new interests and abilities.


 We have a really awesome natural outside environment which is designed to extend children's physical skills, and let them have adventures and make discoveries.We always have lots of fun while learning.

Whare Totara Staff
Mike (Team Leader)
Hi, I'm Mike and I am the team leader in the Totara Room. I have been teaching In Early Childhood since 1997. I am married and have five children. I am a dedicated, energetic and passionate teacher and the focus of my teaching is, it has to be fun! Lots of laughter, nonsense and happiness. Story-telling and drama are very important to me and I enjoy delivering stories through many different fun ways.
Kia ora, I am Shelley McDougall. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood and have been teaching at Surrey Park Early Learning Centre Inc since 2005. My interests include Latin Dance especially Salsa and Bachata. When I am not Teaching, or Dancing I enjoy, home DIY, traveling or spending time with my family and friends. I look forward to walking through this learning journey with you.
Nicky R
Kia ora my name is Nicky. I am married to Andrew and have two children, Sam and Zeke. My boys keep me very busy so I don’t have a lot of spare time. I have a Diploma in Teaching ECE, and I have been at Surrey Park since 1993. Working with children is something I enjoy and I look forward to coming to work every day.
Kia Ora, Ko Mamta toku ingua. Namaste, my name is Mamta Arora. I am from India. I have a Master's degree in Philosophy and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching - ECE. I have been teaching in India since 2008 in the Tertiary Educatin sector. I came to New Zealand in 2016 and joined Surrey Park Early Learning Centre Inc as my home centre for study. I have been teaching in Early Childhood education at different places. I enjoy working with children and enjoy reading, traveling and spending time with my family and friends.
Hi, I’m Sharon. I enjoy working at Surrey Park with the children helping with developing their skills and having fun with them. I have worked at Surrey Park since 2010. I have two daughters, Imogen and Mae so I am kept busy with them as well. In my free time I enjoy walking, gardening and catching up with friends and family.
Kia ora my name is Julie and I love my job! I have a Bachelor of Teaching and I have been teaching since 2005. I live in Invercargill and have two children, Bethany and Lachlan. My first grandchild arrived in October 2020 and I am pretty excited about this! I have recently given up playing club netball due to an injury but still love to hang at the courts watching some games - it's a great chance to catch up with so many people! I love to socialise with friends in the weekend and visit my family in Christchurch when I get the chance! Air NZ is going to love me! I look forward to getting to know our extended whaanau at Surrey Park.

Kia ora, ko Cassidy Laurie tōku ingoa! I have a bachelor’s degree in Primary Teaching and have been with the Surrey Park Early Learning Centre whānau since 2021. Construction activities are a big focus of mine and I love anything outdoors. In my spare time I enjoy illustrating and have recently dived back into the depths of 3D animation and design.