Dedicated & Qualifed


We have a committed team of experience teachers who have served us for a long period of time. Our teachers value each child as an individual and provide many opportunities for them to learn. We are also committed to uphold a high percentage of qualified teachers. As a multi-cultural team, we bring with us a diversity, which has helped us design a rich teaching and learning programme, which is culturally rich and intellectually stimulating. A team that has put in years of experience into creating a home away from home, a place which fosters curiosity, a place of exploration, research and discovery. Developing meaningful relationships with children and families is something that is highly valued and what we strive to achieve.

Kelly Quah

Centre Director

Kia Ora and Hello,

Welcome to Rising Stars Henderson. My name is Kelly Quah, Centre Director of Rising Stars Henderson.  I was born and raised in Singapore. I am bilingual as I was fortunate to be educated in Singapore where my first language is in English and Mandarin, my second language. I graduated with a Bachelor of Business & Marketing (Aust) and a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education (NZ). I am also an ECE registered teacher.

I have been in the education industry for more than 20 years. In 2002, I was seconded to New Zealand with my husband where I set up a Tertiary Institute in Auckland city for international students. Planning for a family and the arrival of my daughter has inspired me to look into a change of career to early childcare education.

I am passionate about life long learning where all learning starts from the moment a child is born. Young children learn thru their five senses, the environment and the community they live in; through play and varied experiences. Our responsibility as an educator is to impart our younger generations with positive learning experiences and prepare them for their next stage of life.

I would like to thank all whanau/ families for entrusting your precious ones to us on this important journey. I am excited to know more about your child and your family.

Leah Boonzaaier

Room Leader

Hi Parents/Whanau

My name is Leah Boonzaaier and I am the Room Leader here in the Tuakana room. I was born and raised in New Zealand, on the North Shore, but moved to the west after buying a house in Massey.

I hold a Bachelors Degree in ECE and I am fully registered. I have spent the last 11 years teaching,

I am passionate about teaching our Tuakana children about real life skills and setting them up ready for their future learning. What I love most about teaching the preschool children is that they are just starting to blossom into little adults. The world and their environment is making more sense to them and they are becoming more articulate about their discoveries. I enjoy being alongside them with their learning and supporting them with their growth.  

I am married and have two young children. Feenix who is enjoying his journey at primary school and Daisy who is also enjoying the Tuakana room alongside me. They keep us grounded and remind me why I do this job every day.

I look forward to getting to know you, your families and your child.

Nila Thanaraj

Room Leader

Kia Ora, Hello, Wannakam and Ayubowan.

My Name is Nila and I am a registered teacher in New Zealand and the room leader in Teina Room. I was born in the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka and call New Zealand/Aotearoa home for the past 25 years of my life.  I have two sons who are young adults.  One lives over in Australia where majority of family lives.  My younger son lives with me while studying towards an Engineering degree. I have a passion for travelling, cooking and history.  I like living in peaceful New Zealand.  

I have been working at Rising Stars since 2013 and enjoy every minute of it.  I believe in providing children with the best start in life which led me to choose a career in teaching after going through the similar journey with my own children.

 Every child is unique and each has their own strengths and needs, and my aim is to provide an environment for them to shine while develop their skills, interests and attitudes.   I strongly believe when a teacher works in partnership with a child’s family/whanau and their community their Mana and self-esteem is lifted which helps them develop into confident and competent learners and valuable members of their society.  It is a great privilege and responsibility to work with children and I have an amazing team of teachers who support me to help our children in Teina room.  Nga mihi nui. 

Siksha Prasad

Room Leader

Dear Parents/ Whanau

My name is Siksha Prasad and I am the Room Leader for the Pepe room. I was born in Fiji and I moved to Auckland when I was 10 years old. I have now been living in New Zealand for 20 years. I lived in Mt Roskill for most of my time here in Auckland, however I have recently moved to Weymouth.

I studied at the University of Auckland and I hold a bachelor’s degree in ECE, and I am a fully registered teacher. I have been working with children for about 8 years now.

I have always enjoyed being around children, and I mainly had a passion being around babies. Therefore, I chose this field and I really enjoy what I do with the babies.

I live with my husband and my daughter who will be 5 soon.

I look forward to getting to know you all more.

Louise Davis

ECE Qualified Teacher

Hi Parents/Whanau

My name is Louise Davies and I am a teacher here in the Tuakana room. I was born and raised in England and moved to N.Z with my family as a teenager.

I hold a Degree in ECE and I am fully registered. My Early childhood career spans 19.5 years. For the majority of it I have worked with infants, but I have experience with all age groups.

I am passionate about teaching our Tuakana children about real life.  Teaching morals such as kindness, empathy and treating others how you yourself want to be treated. I love the conversations I get to have with pre-schoolers, sometimes they are so bizarre. It's what makes this job so interesting, two days are never the same here in the Tuakana room.

I am married and have two children and three stepchildren. My eldest now lives away from home and my youngest is battling her way through high school. They all do their own thing now so it’s time for me and my hubby to fill our days with motorbike rides and trips to cafes.

I look forward to getting to know you and your child.

Valentina Soto

ECE Qualified Teacher

Kia Ora Whanau/Families  

My Name is Valentina and I am a fully registered teacher in the Teina Room. I was born and raised in Tāmaki-makau-rau/Auckland and come from a family of 6. I have been working at Rising Stars since 2013.

The fiery spirit of a toddler is where my passion lies. Coming into our room is an exciting and exhilarating day. Developmentally a toddler goes through many milestones in such a small amount of time and it brings me absolute joy to see their minds churn out new ideas of how the world around them works. This is where I come into place. Supporting, encouraging and extending toddlers with their new ideas and interests is what we in the Teina Room strive to do on a daily basis. We do this by providing provocations such as music and art, loose parts play, sensory play, and risk taking, just to name a few.

Rising Stars has been my place of work since I was a young university student, now that I am a fully registered teacher I have come to learn and grow alongside the tamariki/children in my care. The brilliant Nga Kaiako/Teachers here at Rising Stars have supported, encouraged, and have made me the Kaiako/teacher I am today.  I look forward to creating a beautiful partnership with you and your whanau/family, and together your child will have the most memorable time here at Rising Stars.

Joisse Cueva

ECE Qualified Teacher

Hi Parents/Whanau

My name is Joisse Cueva and I am one of the teachers here in the Tuakana room. I was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up here in New Zealand and I am Filipino. I am the eldest of three girls and I live with my parents.  After finishing my studies, I went straight to university and got a job here at Rising Stars with the pre-school children. I have been working here for 6 years as a provisionally registered teacher and I hold a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Ever since I was young, I have always dreamed of being a teacher and thanks to all of you I am able to live that dream every day. I believe children are capable of doing things for themselves and I will often let them take the lead. I am also passionate about being kind and respectful to others. I love working with this age group and all the fun things we get up to such as DIY.

Come and say hi to me and I look forward to meeting you!

Ronaclaire Totanes

ECE Qualified Teacher

Kia Ora and Kumusta!

My name is Ronaclaire Totanes. I've been in the Pepe room for almost 5 years now and I absolutely love and enjoy it here.

 I am originally from the Philippines. It has been 10 years since my family and I moved to New Zealand and called it our new home. The things I like to do are painting, drawing, playing instruments, travelling and taking photographs.

In 2018, I've completed my degree in Bachelor of Teaching in ECE and got my registration in 2019.

One of the things I strongly believe  in as a teacher is the importance of building respectful and genuine relationships with the tamaraki and their whanau.

I look forward to work with your child and your family.

Lucas Rabold


Kia Ora, my name is Lucas Rabold and I was born and raised in Germany. In 2016 I started my journey to New Zealand and I fell in love with this beautiful country. After traveling through the whole country I moved to the North Shore to start my new life in Auckland. 

I studied and graduated my ECE Teaching Degree in Germany and I am currently working on my teaching registration. Since the age of 13, I have been working in early childhood centres building experience before I was able to join the workforce full time. 

Physical movement and art projects are two of my strongest passions. Learning together, side by side, is helping to build a good relationship for life. I am looking forward to working and supporting your tamariki. 

‘Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa.’ - Let us keep close together, not far apart

Gladys Lambarth


Hi Parents/Whanau

Kō Ahuahu te Maunga 

Kō Omapere te Roto

Kō Ngatokimatawharoa te Waka

Kō Parawhenua te Marae

Kō Uri Taniwha te Hapu

Kō Nga Puhi te Iwi

Kō Gladys tōku ingoā


I am Gladys Lambarth and I am an educator’s assistant in our Tuakana room.

I grew up in the Waikato and moved to Auckland when I was 9. I now reside in Glendene with my partner and our two children with our bullmastiff Rex and our rescue cat Tee.  

I started my learning journey with my 2 children Tennessee and Lucan at Glendene Play centre, this is where I learnt that I really enjoy being and learning alongside young children - The joy and laughter they bring each day is priceless! I look forward to learning and growing alongside your Whanau.

Aroha mai, aroha atu

Love and compassion received, love and compassion given.

Maria Karla Alfante


Hi everyone! My name is Karla Alfante and I am one of the teachers in Pepe room. I was born in the Philippines and grew up here as a teenager. My journey in teaching started when I worked as a toy librarian at Children’s Autism Foundation. I have been passionate about psychology especially involving young children. I found the essence in connecting in the early stages with children to be vital in strengthening relationships and forming healthy bonds. Working at Rising Stars across all rooms has helped me grow and learn how to become a mindful teacher. I am passionate in teaching as it is being endlessly curious about experiences, physical movement, self-expression, well-being, kindness, and being creative. I am so grateful to have worked with children because I love seeing the instant spark on their faces when they are learning something new, and being given lots of hugs and cuddles! For me, working with children inspires me to connect through my heart, being aware of our community and reflect more on life.

Gaewyn Heald


Hi Parents/Whanau

My name is Gaewyn Heald. I'm the  cook for the centre for 10 years. Cooking is my passion and I love to cook healthy and delicious food for our tamariki. When they love my food it makes me happy.

Stephanie Newcombe

ECE Qualified Teacher

Kia Ora Rising Stars whānau,

My name is Stephanie Newcombe and I am born and raised here in Auckland City. I hold a Post Graduate Diploma in ECE and have my full teacher registration. I have been teaching in the ECE sector for 8 years and feel very fortunate that I can live out my passion in an early learning setting every day.

I have two young children, Beau who is in our Pepe room and Charlotte who is in our Tuakana room. I feel that all children are precious individuals who deserve the love, respect and patience of caring adults who will support them to find out who they are, and what they enjoy in order to become happy, independent young people.

I am looking forward to getting to know your children and family as we embark on our learning journey together here in the Pepe Room.

I believe it truly takes a village to raise a child and I feel privileged to be a part of the village that is Rising Stars.

Nau te rourou, naku te rourou,

ka ora te manuhiri

With your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive.

Jodie Thomas


Hello, Goeie more & Kia Ora parents/whanau.

My name is Jodie Thomas and I am a teacher in the Pepe room.

I was born in South Africa and moved here when I was 1 years old and have lived in Auckland ever since. I now call New Zealand/Aotearoa home.

I've always had a love for children since a very young age. Growing up I always knew ECE would be a passion of mine. I have two beautiful young children of my own.

I started my journey studying before having my children. Im grateful to be a part of the rising stars team and to be fulfilling my dream as a teacher.

I feel strongly about creating a safe, warm and welcoming environment for tamariki and their whanau, a place they can call a home away from home.

I look forward to getting to know you and your tamariki.