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Group of Kaitoke School Claris smiling

Our Team

Our teaching team is a group of highly motivated and passionate educators who are committed to providing our students with an exceptional learning experience. They are dedicated to creating a safe and supportive learning environment that fosters curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking.


Our team of teachers are highly skilled and experienced, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our school. They work collaboratively, sharing their ideas and expertise to ensure that every child's individual needs are met. Our passionate teaching team is always looking for new and innovative ways to engage students and make learning fun. They are committed to ongoing professional development to ensure that they are up-to-date with the latest teaching practices and techniques.


Our teachers are truly the heart of our school, and we are proud of the positive impact they have on our students' lives.

Our Principal

I am thrilled to introduce myself as the principal of Kaitoke School, where I have had the pleasure of being a part of this vibrant community since the beginning of Term 2 in 2022. It is an incredible honour to be entrusted with the education of the children at Kaitoke School, and I am committed to providing them with an educational journey that instills hope, success, joy, and a lifelong love of learning and the environment.


As an experienced educator with 18 years of experience, I am passionate about delivering positive outcomes for children. I have previously held roles as a practice leader, team leader, curriculum leader, and classroom teacher, and most recently, I led the Resource Teacher Learning Behaviour (RTLB) service for 65 schools in Central Auckland, including the three Great Barrier schools. It is wonderful being back in a school environment.


In my personal life, I am married to Bayard, and we are proud parents to four wonderful children, Claudia, Charlotte, Jacob, and George. Our adopted four-legged family member, Barry, also plays a vital role as a Therapy dog at the school, bringing joy to many students' lives. 'Barry the School Dog' is quite a sensation on Instagram.


Aotea Great Barrier has been our favorite place for years, and we are delighted to now call it our home. When not at work, I enjoy traveling, cooking meals for friends and family, exploring the outdoors, fishing, snow sports, and surfing. I am excited to be part of such a unique and special place like Kaitoke School, and I look forward to working with the community to continue providing the best education for our students.

Leanne Eloff Principal


Our Kowhai Teacher

(Year 5-8)

Melinda West (Mel) is the Kowhai team teacher, teaching our years 5 to 8 tamariki. Mel brings a wealth of experience to our school, having taught at Levin School in the Horowhenua region. Mel has a strong connection to Aotea Great Barrier, having visited the island as a student, and is thrilled to return with her family.


Mel is married to Willy, and they have three children. Two of their children are studying at university, and their youngest child, attends Kaitoke School. Mel and her family are already embracing their new environment and are passionate about the outdoors. In fact, they are all members of a surf life-saving club and can not wait to grow this here on Aotea.


As an experienced teacher, Mel is dedicated to ensuring that all students have every opportunity to succeed. She has a holistic approach to teaching, which allows for ample opportunities for students to excel in all areas of the curriculum. Mel has taught at all primary school levels, including multi-level classes, and her passion for education shines through in all she does. We are thrilled to have Mel as part of our team and seeing the positive impact she has on our students.


Our Kauri Teacher

(Year 1-4)

Maree Parkes is our Kauri Team teacher for our year 1-4 tamariki. We were delighted to welcome Maree Parkes (nee Sanderson) back to the Barrier in 2022. Maree was born here and attended Mulberry Grove School in the 1970s. Maree's childhood journey to school involved many long hours on the windy gravel roads over the Medlands hill, which highlights her tenacity and resilience. Maree is married to Chris, and they have three children who have all left school and are chasing their dreams.


Maree's wealth of skill and experience come from her teaching career at Te Awamutu Primary School, where she taught for 14 years, primarily in the junior school. During this time, Maree served as a team leader and led many successful initiatives. Now, Maree feels it is time to "give back" to the Barrier, which moulded her as a young person and instilled in her the values she lives by today. Maree is fiercely passionate about making a positive difference in every child's life, and we are thrilled to have her on board.


Our Specialist Crew

Luke Coles is our resident STEAM teacher and "Barrier Boy" who works with us on Thursdays and Fridays. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The goal of STEAM education is to provide students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for careers in these fields, as well as helping them develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative skills that can be applied to any subject area.


Luke uses project-based learning and hands-on activities to engage students and help them develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. He also incorporates technology, art, and other interdisciplinary approaches to teaching these subjects. STEAM education is becoming increasingly important in today's society, as the demand for workers with skills in these areas continues to grow.


Deb Wilson is our literacy support and reading recovery teacher. Deb is a specially trained educator who works with groups and one-on-one with children who need a bit of extra support with reading and writing.



Barry, a Huntaway X puppy, arrived in June 2022 as a bright and energetic 8-month-old. He was rescued after being found wandering the streets malnourished and with lame back legs alongside his sister. After being taken in by the pound, he was fostered by the Retired Working Dogs Trust, where he received excellent care to help his hips and legs recover. Despite his hip dysplasia diagnosis, which precludes him from being a working dog, the trust quickly recognized his friendly and loving nature, making him an ideal candidate for a therapy dog.


While still learning, Barry greets every child as they arrive at school with enthusiasm, and he loves to sit in on classes, getting plenty of pats from his Kaitoke friends. He also enjoys chasing tennis balls with the students during break times. Thanks to his super-friendly nature and charm, Barry is a beloved member of the school community, bringing joy and happiness to all those around him.

Barry the school dog

Our Board Of Trustees (BOT)

The BOT (Board of Trustees) are responsible for making important decisions related to the school's policies, finances, and overall direction.


Our BOT members are Kathy Cummings (Chair), Kim Scott, Renee Freeland, Penny Hay, Deb Killgallon, Mel west (staff rep) and Leanne Eloff (principal).


All BOT minutes are available from the office on request.

Our Support Staff

Tay is our office manager. Her job is to manage the office and make sure things run smoothly. She works with the Leanne and other staff to manage money, organize events, and communicate with parents. She is very organized and good at doing many things at once. 


We are very fortunate to have an amazing Teacher Aide with us - Nell Williams . Nell works under the guidance and supervision of Mel and Maree and works with individuals or small groups of students to help them with their learning. Nell is also leading our enviroschools journey and is our Garden to Table Specialist.


Emma Holliday cooks our tamariki a delicious lunch every day! She plays an essential role in ensuring that students receive the food and nourishment they need to learn and grow. In addition to preparing meals, she is responsible for planning menus that meet nutritional guidelines, ordering food and supplies, and managing inventory.She also ensures that all food is prepared and served in compliance with food safety regulations.

Johnno Stapleton is our school caretaker. He is a critical member of our school community and plays an essential role in creating a safe and welcoming environment for students and staff alike.

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