Support Staff at School

Support Staff are the backbone of any school. From caretaker Jeni, to office duo Val and Rhonda and Teacher Aides, Cindy, Penny, Diana and Karen, we thank you for everything  you do every day for tamariki, teachers, whanau and wider school community.

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Val Mansfield

Val has been associated with Wairakei Primary for 29 and a half years. It’s been a real family affair.

I attended the school as a child. All of our 4 children attended right through their primary years. I have a 16-year-old granddaughter who went through Wairakei  for all her primary school years and currently have 3 grandchildren attending.

Val is the ‘go to’ person if you have a question or query as a staff member, student or whanau. Her kind and unflappable manner and endless patience is a sight to behold.

The families I have met through the school over the years. Pet Day, seeing the school grow, and the reputation it has in the local Taupō area and seeing our students progress through the school from Year 0-6.

I love the variety of work I do and the amazing staff.

Rhonda Ellington

Rhonda works in the afternoons and this duo are the face of the office, handling all those cuts, grazes and tears and all the other things that keep a school ticking along.

Rhonda’s role as office assistant is varied too. Among other things, she has responsibility for the management systems related to our devices and assets.

My job is very varied with no day being the same. I started here 18 years ago as a parent helper then I was a teacher aide then worked in the library and did IT support. Now as part of my role, I keep track of our ipads and chromebooks, among many other things.

Highlights for Rhonda include attending a reunion a few years ago, attending numerous Pet Days and seeing her own children come through the school.

Another highlight was seeing the school hall be moved in three parts from across the road where it used to be a community hall.

Penny  has been an employee since April 2002. However, her links extend to her family with her daughters  and now grandchildren attending the school. Even her husband was here for a short while when he was 8 and 9.

Highlights for me include working with fantastic colleagues. The support staff are a great team. I have met some awesome children and found my happy place in the library. I enjoy working with specific students and seeing their learning grow. I’ve also learnt a lot from our staff.

Jeni Tarrant 

It’s hard to nail Jeni down as she is here, there and everywhere. Mowing lawns, blowing leaves, fixing this and fixing that, and unblocking toilets, all done with a smile.

Jeni has been at Wairakei for three years. Highlights include the daily little conversations she has with students.

I like that I never know what I’m going to do -  fixing, cleaning or admin and everything in between.

Karen Officer Teacher Aide

Karen is a teacher aide who works with one of our high needs’ student’s. She is responsible for Elyse’s daily needs and works one on one with her to access learning across the curriculum.

I love working with Elyse and watching her grow and develop. Every milestone she achieves gives me lots of satisfaction. I also enjoy the Interactions with staff and other students.

Cindy Clunie (Miss Cindy) Teacher Aide

Cindy is a calm patient person who works well with a range of students across her busy day.Cindy has been here for 18 years doing a variety of roles working with a variety of students.

My two children attended Wairakei Primary. The Gully was one of their favourite places and of course the library. I think it’s the same today for the current students.

One highlight for Cindy was when the hall was moved across the road onto the school grounds.

It was great to not have to escort the whole school across the road for assemblies. Another highlight is seeing ex students on Pet Day and seeing what they have done since leaving.

Diana Fitzsimmons – Teacher Aide

Diana has celebrated 25 years long service at Wairakei. She’s at work after a wonderful month away travelling with her granddaughter. 25 Years and Counting Blog). Diana works with a variety of students in a variety of roles and brings her own unique sense of humour to the interactions she has with both students and staff.

When I was at school I didn’t have anyone to help me and left at the age of 15. I enjoy seeing the little steps the students make and giving them opportunities that I never had. It’s kind of nice when I see them downtown as adults and they say hi. I’ve even had some that give me a hug.

Highlights for Diana include camps to Waihi, Papamoa and MERC where Diana kept everyone fed and watered in her no nonsense, well organised way.

2024 Bowler

Gwen Bowler

Education has no beginning and no end. It ebbs and flows and is ever-changing. As an educator, it is my responsibility to instill a love of learning and an ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.

My teaching journey started at 40 when I retrained as a teacher after a career in journalism and many years as a stay-at-home mother. When we guide our students to be lifelong learners, we send them towards their next journey well-prepared for whatever life brings.


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