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.


Lacreice Petaera    

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

Kia ora koutou. I am an experienced teacher of 17 years. I have traveled extensively and I lived in the UK for a few years at the beginning of my teaching career. I have a personal love of reading, and particularly love teaching Literacy. I come from a large Maori whanau of 9 brothers and sisters, and 42 nieces and nephews. I have looked after children all of my life from babysitting, youth ministry and then teaching. I have been married to my amazing husband for 20 years and we have a beautiful 2 year old daughter.

Virginia Marchioni

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

I have been at Whitiora for twelve years teaching from year 1 to 6. I am currently part of the teaching team in Totara learning Centre and I am also Reading Recovery trained. I have a passion for literacy and numeracy and I enjoy being part of children's journey in learning. I have five children and one gorgeous granddaughter and grandson. Out of school I have a passion for animal welfare. My home consists of too many animals who are part of the family, and horses who I spend a lot of time with and I love riding.

Andrea Turner 
Teacher and Leader of Learning (Kowhai Learning Center Years 0-2)

I work in Kowhai Learning Centre along with 3 other teachers.  I have been teaching for 13 years in the junior area of schools and I have worked at Whitiora School for 3 years.  I love teaching in the Junior School and enjoy learning about all the different cultures we have at Whitiora School.  I have three grown children, two are living in London.  So my babies are my three very cute little dogs and two cats.

Shahgul Mohmand
Teacher (Rata Learning Center Years 6-8)

This is my fourth year teaching at Whitiora School. I'm currently teaching a mixed ability class ranging from year 6 - 8  children. I like teaching every subject but more so, Maths, Writing and P.E. I have three children, two of whom attend Whitiora School and they love it here. In my spare time I like to go on road trips and stay active with my family.

Kate Papesch
Teacher (Rata Learning Center Years 6-8)


Natalie Toombs 
Teacher (Totara Learning Center Years 3-5)

I am in Totara Learning Centre with our middle school students. I am a member of the leadership team, with my role as Within School Community of Learning. I have a history in Behavioural Psychology and a passion for our learners with Special Education needs. I love the Performing Arts and Mathematics. I have enjoyed time living overseas, the majority of which was in the Republic of Ireland. I am married and I have two young daughters. 

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.
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. 


Sarah Pearce
Teacher (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.

Alan Greenhead 
Teacher (Kowhai Leanring Center Years 0-2)

I have returned to Hamilton after teaching across the North Island, mainly at the Year 0-3 levels. I have also taught in England and Japan, and I particularly enjoy sharing my love of art, music and science with students. I have an energetic five year old daughter and a one year old son. My family loves spending time in the outdoors.


Tahlia Te Kiri 
Teacher (Kowhai Learning Center Years 0-2)

Mauri Ora e te whānau, He uri tēnei no Waimana, Tuhoe! I come from a big whānau and whānau is everything to me. I work in Kowhai with our pēpī paopao and am really enjoying my time with all our tamariki. Sport is my passion and basketball is my game, if you see me don't be afraid to come and say HEY! 


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.

Helen Gleeson
Teacher (Itinerant Resource Teacher: Literacy   based at Whitiora School)
Elspeth Oliver
Teacher (Itinerant Resource Teacher: Literacy   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.
Nadia Roberts
Teacher Aide & OSCAR Before and After School Care

This is my fourth year at Whitiora School and my third year as a Teacher­-aide. I'm enjoying the challenge of learning as I work and gaining experience.  I am loving my new married life. I am an avid Rugby supporter who has a passion for anything to do with the sport. I love being at Whitiora School and encompassing what the future has in store for my Teacher­-aide career.

Dan Mudgway
Teacher Aide & OSCAR Before and After School Care


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.