Our Staff Team 
Paul Cooper


Welcome to the Whitiora School Team. As Principal of Whitiora School I have the privilege of leading a dedicated team of teachers and staff who take pride in providing a welcoming setting and encouraging creative opportunities for children and their learning in our Innovative Learning environment. I am passionate about seeing students succeed and developing habits of learning which will serve them well for life. I model this in my leadership which supports teachers in developing their professional practice and by taking on personal learning challenges which resulted recently in successfully completing my Masters in Education Leadership degree. We are always on the look out for new and exciting learning opportunities for our students. We believe Whitiora School is a great little school in the heart of the city. If you would like to talk about supporting new learning opportunities in the school do come and see me.


TeHaumoana Biddle
Deputy Principal

Kia ora! Malo! Kia orana!  Bula Vinaka! Talofa!  Ni Hao!  Hola! Namaste!

I was born and bred in the ataahua taone of Whakatane.  I am an uri o te waka o Mataatua- Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Awa me Te Whakatohea.  Lover of food.  Whanau is everything.

I have been teaching for 17 years.  Passionate about the learning and well being of our staff, tamariki and their whanau.

Kate Papesch

Teacher and Leader of Learning (Rata Learning Center Years 6-8)

I have been teaching for over 15 years and two years at Whitiora School. I have specialist training for teaching for dyslexia and other learning difficulties. My passion is seeing children succeeding in learning and I believe that trusting relationships with tamariki and their whanau are the foundation of thriving in learning. I use a diverse range of strategies in my teaching and learning to ensure every child is able to reach their full potential. I am from a large family and enjoy sharing their love of sport and dance.
Heidi Whittaker

Teacher and Leader of Learning (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5)

 Sarah Pearce 
Teacher and Leader of Learning (Kowhai Leanring Center Years 0-2)

I started my teaching career in 2004. Since then I have taught from Year 0 to Year 6. I am currently teaching in Kowhai Learning Centre and have s passion for learning through play. I enjoy teaching in an Innovative Learning Environment and the children at Whitiora are awesome! In my spare time, I enjoy being at the beach in Whitianga and hanging out with my beautiful family.  


Greg Matetaka
Teacher (Rata Learning Centre Years 6-8)

I am Tokoroa born and raised and feel proud to be a part of a school like Whitiora. For me building positive relationships with students and their whanau is paramount. Without this mutual respect and understanding quality learning cannot take place. I have a particular interest in the arts, music and drama. Drama is especially close to my heart, it is an avenue I believe builds confidence in our tamariki in a way which is both fun and collaborative.

Karenne Kavanaugh
Teacher (Rata Learning Centre Years 6-8) and Transition support

I am in Rata Learning Centre teaching senior students. I have recently returned from 7 years teaching in an international school in China and two in Korea. I am interested in cultural diversities and working with migrant families.  I have an Arts Degree in Education and ESOL qualifications. My main interest in teaching is literacy and helping children to learn to read. I enjoy sports and teaching racket sports and athletics.

Julia Prestidge
Teacher (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5   &   ESOL Teacher)

I graduated in 2002 and started teaching. I also worked as a corporate trainer in a call center.  After having my second son, I returned to teaching. I have spent the last 9 years working in several schools in the Hamilton area.  I have been at Whitiora School for the last year, working along side an awesome team of teachers and students in the Totara Team.  In my spare time I love spending time with my family and friends.


Narshele Takao
Teacher (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5)

I graduated in 2019 

Chloe James
Teacher (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5)

I have been teaching around Hamilton since 2015, and have relieved and taught at many schools in the area. I am passionate about visual art and love to encourage my students to explore their own creativity. I met my husband when we were both students at Canterbury College of Education, and we taught in Christchurch until we moved to Hamilton to be near family. We have two precious children that we hold in our hearts.

(Currently on maternity leave)

Tim Burkhill
Teacher (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5)


Kylie Hollis
Te Aahuru Rumaki Unit Kaiwhina (Totara Learning Center)


Alison Stockton 
Teacher and Goal Leader (Kowhai Learning Center Years 0-2)

I work in Kowhai Learning Centre along with 3 other teachers.  I particularly enjoy working with the new entrant children as they settle into their first school. We have developed a Transition Programme with the local Kindergarten to support our 5 year-old children as they first start school. I am passionate about literacy and I am a committee member of the Waikato Literacy Association. When I am not at school I enjoy supporting my family in their sport of cycling.

Stevi-Rae Ofanoa
Teacher (Kowhai Learning Center Years 0-2)


Avril Jacobs
ESOL Teacher


Karen Hunwick
Teacher (Kowhai Learning Center Years 0-2)

I have had a fulfilling teaching career spanning many years, and have taught all levels from Year 1-8 throughout the Waikato region. Literacy is my passion, and when I started at Whitiora in Term 4, 2017, I brought with me 13 years of experience as a Literacy Support teacher from my previous position. I enjoy teaching in an Innovative Learning Environment here, with very supportive staff and wonderful children. My husband and I are avid travellers, and as both of our adult children are currently living in England, I am certain there will be more trips planned in the future.


Dawn Irvin
Teacher (Class Room Release all levels)

I have been in the teaching profession for many years and in fact Whitiora School was my first teaching position.  I am enjoying being back at Whitiora School.  I have taught at all levels in the Primary sector in various schools around Hamilton.  I have had experience as an Adviser of 'Teaching English as a Second Language' in Hong Kong.  I have a passion for teaching in Literacy.  I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, sewing and reading.

Tracy Olorenshaw
Teacher (Itinerant Resource Teacher: Literacy  (RTLit) based at Whitiora School)
Elspeth Oliver
Teacher (Itinerant Resource Teacher: Literacy (RTLit)  based at Whitiora School)


Nicole Maeli
Office Administrator


Pastor John Davison
School Chaplain

Anne McDonald
Teacher Aide

This is my eleventh year working as a Teacher­-aide at Whitiora School after a 25 year career in the Bank. I absolutely love working with the children who need that extra help and find it very rewarding when they and I can see their progress. I also help the teachers from Year 1 to Year 8 in Reading and Writing. The little ones keep me young! I have 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren, who I love to bits. I enjoy reading, gardening and spending time with friends and family. I am not ready for retirement so hopefully I will be at this great school a while longer.

Anita Lord
Teacher Aide

Jess Zinsli
Coordinator of OSCAR Before and After School Care

Rewa Dewes
Assistant for OSCAR Before and After School Care
Teacher Aide


Dasrath Dasrath

I have worked at Whitiora School for two and a half years. I enjoy coming into the school and I feel welcomed by the teachers and children.
Mark Perry

I have been the Caretaker at Whitiora School since January 2007. I enjoy the daily interaction with the children and the staff and work hard to ensure that they can come to work in a safe and clean environment. Whitiora School is a great little school in the heart of the city. Outside of school, my main passion is cycling. I love to bike around, taking in the sights and sounds of our beautiful Hamilton. See you on the road sometime.