Leadership Team

Katie Pennicott

Katie's bio
Ko Hikurangi te maunga Ko Waiapu te awa Ko Horouta te waka Ko Ngati Porou te iwi Tena koutou katoa Kia ora koutou, I am Katie Pennicott. I am from Invercargill and my tipuna are of Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Pakēha and Whenua Moemoea descent. I am originally from Invercargiill and now live in Auckland. I have been a teacher and school leader for 22 years. I am passionate about providing the conditions resources, support and space for success, enjoyment and belonging for all of our students, teachers and whānau. I have one son aged 20 years, and my chihuahua Frankie comes to school with me most days. I love getting out and about enjoying nature around Auckland. I welcome all feedback, suggestions and ideas and love hearing from our school community. The door is always open, Nau mai, Haere mai!

Catherine Collins
Deputy Principal

Catherine's bio
I love teaching because of the relationships you form with the students and the special position you have that allows you to see them learn and grow in confidence. As Deputy Principal and Special Needs Coordinator I really enjoy working with students and whānau. It is so rewarding to be able to help students overcome problems, get their learning back on track and find success.

Debbie Shaw
Assistant Principal | Kowhai Team Leader | Teacher Room 1

Debbie's bio
Ko hikurangi te maunga Ko waiapu te awa Ko Ngāti Porou te iwi Ko Buster Pihema Park toku matua tane Ko Rīpeka Rangihuna Park toku whaea Ko Deborah Ngāhuia Shaw toku ingoa I am the eldest of 5 children and most of my immediate whānau live on Great Barrier Island, including my mother and father, two of my sisters and one of my brothers. most of their own children and their grandchildren live on the island as well My other brother and his whānau (who used to live on Great Barrier Island, but left for the children’s schooling) now live in Gisborne. I have 3 children and 3 grandchildren (James, Maz and Tové). Our family have had a homestead on Great Barrier Island for 50 years. It is a beautiful place and even though much more accessible these days, it’s a wonderful lifestyle. My mother was born and raised in Te Araroa (in the Gisborne area). She was 1 of 18 children and attended the local school, with her brothers and sisters; they all rode horses to school and left them in the paddock next to the school during the day. My mother tells the story that all the older children were responsible for helping the younger ones do their chores and their homework, as there were so many of them, they all needed to work together. “Me mahi tātou, kia kaha te iwi” “Together we work to strengthen all others”

Jessica Shirley
Acting Deputy Principal | Nikau Team Leader | Teacher Room 15

Jessica's bio
Kia ora tatou. My name is Jessica Shirley and I started my teaching journey here at Sunnyvale school in 2009. I originally grew up in South Auckland, attending school in Papatoetoe but now I call West Auckland home. We also have a family bach at Waihi Beach where I spend a lot of summers and long weekends. I love being a teacher and seeing the progress of the tamariki here at our school. I feel blessed that I get to do what I do everyday. I believe every child is different it’s very important to build solid relationships with my learners and their whānau by getting to know who they are as individuals and what their interests and passions are. I hold high expectations for my students and love to celebrate success. I believe learning is for life. I have learnt so much about myself, children and education during my time at Sunnyvale. I want to give my students the tools to be lifelong learners and strive to achieve their goals and ambitions. In my spare time I love spending time with friends and family, listening to music, being by a pool or at the beach and walking. I also love meeting new people, so my door is also open and everyone is welcome to come for a chat.

Mericia Chang
Acting Deputy Principal | Kauri Team Leader | Kaiako Ngā Kakano

Mericia's bio
Fakaalofa lahi atu, I am Mericia Chang. I am of Niuean descent, teacher of Room 6, Team Leader of the Kauri Syndicate (Y5-6) and Across School Leader of our Henderson Kahui Ako (Community of Learning). I have only started working here at Sunnyvale School this year. I am married to Nigel (Samoan-Chinese) and have four children – Lanicia (17), Dallyce (16), Manatoa (12) and Johnson (9). My daughters Lanicia and Dallyce attend St Dominics College, My son Manatoa attends Liston College and my baby Johnson is currently at Western Heights Primary as of this year. I have been teaching for 11 years (years 3-8) at 3 different schools. In addition, my family and life outside teaching also play a major role and influence me as a teacher/leader. I manage a sporting family – and I’m the main cheerleader for them on the sideline of the court and the field. Life is busy as a full time working Mum. Nevertheless, I too am a learner and my role as a teacher, leader and all my other responsibilities are constant work in progress and is always evolving – but as they say, ‘life is so much easier with a sense of humour’. My door is always open, and I love meeting and chatting with people.

May Gaseata
Pohutukawa Team Leader | Faiaoga Nafanua

May's bio
Talofa, talofa, talofa lava. My name is May Gaseata and I have been at Sunnyvale since 2015. My passions include music and Siva Samoa, and I also love tutoring the Pasifika Group, alongside another colleague of mine. The thing I love most about teaching is; the lightbulb moments students have and seeing students shine in different areas at school, whether it be through academics, the arts or sports. In my spare time I love to play with my son and catch up on my programs. I love summer and going to the beach to have a swim and a BBQ. My door is always open and I am always willing to listen, so please do not hesitate to come in. Fa’afetai lava


Natasha Chandra
Room 2

Natasha's bio
Kia Ora! My name is Natasha Chandra and I have been at Sunnyvale Primary School since February 2019. I am originally from Fiji and have been living in Auckland for the last 18 years. I have taught as an Early Childhood Teacher before graduating with my Diploma in Teaching (Primary) in 2018. I believe in creating a positive learning environment that encourages our tamariki to take risks and experience success

Tupu Tuia
Room 3



Alice Massey
Room 11

Alice's bio
Tēnā koutou katoa Ko Thames toku awa Ko Carn Brea toku maunga No Kerikeri ahau Ko Celts toku iwi Kia ora, my name is Alice Massey; I started out my teaching career in Pakuranga in 2016, and joined the wonderful Sunnyvale family in 2019 when we bought our first home. My parter Lee and I live up in the Waitakere ranges, and relish the peacefulness of living away from all the noise and action of Auckland. In my spare time I love playing with my dog Albus, and fitting in a bit of gardening and reading where I can. I like that as a teacher no day is the same, and that there is always something new to learn! Studying psychology and sociology at university has built my passion for helping our tamariki to become well-rounded, mindful members of our society.

James Grant
Room 12

James's bio
Tēnā koutou katoa Ko Maungawhau taku maunga Ko Koterana taku marae Ko Grant taku hapū Ko Cheryl taku Māmā Ko Neil taku Pāpā Ko Ashley taku tuahine Ko James taku ingoa No Tāmaki Makaurau ahau Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa Kia ora, as I have said, my name is James Grant and I have taught at Sunnyvale for a few years now. I am really passionate about helping our tamariki be the best that they can be. At school, I enjoy all curriculum areas but drama would be the one closest to my heart. I love the confidence that drama gives children and I believe that it is a powerful way to engage students in all areas of their learning. Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my family, being involved in my local community theatre group and going for long bush walks. You are welcome in Room 12 any time and please say hello to me when you next see me around.

Pushpa Ram
Room 13

Pushpa's bio
I am Pushpa Ram, and I grew up in Fiji on a farm eating lots of fresh food and fruits every day. Listening to my grandma’s stories and learning many valuable life skills through playing with nature. I had a river near my house which was like a swimming pool .I got the teaching inspiration through my parents. They taught me how to read and write in my language. Therefore, I have a huge passion for teaching and learning and I absolutely love what I do. It’s an honour for me to be part of Sunnyvale School whanau and I will do everything I can to ensure our tamariki are nurtured in a supportive learning.

Mike Bell
Room 14

Mike's bio
Kia ora koutou, my name is Mike Bell. I started teaching at Sunnyvale Primary School in February 2018. I am originally from Hamilton however, I have been living in Auckland for the last 14 years. Most of my family still live in Hamilton and I travel down there frequently to visit them. I have been a full time teacher for the past 11 years and in that time I have taught all year levels from Years1 to 6. I have an interest in Inquiry based learning and the curriculum areas of Science, Environmental Sustainability, Digital Technology, Numeracy and Literacy.

Lesley Boswell
Room 16

Lesley's bio
Kia Ora tatou, I’m Miss Boswell. I’m Sunnyvale’s resident All Black crazy and spider lover. I love encouraging tamariki to notice and appreciate the everyday natural world around them and enjoy teaching Reading and opening up young people’s imaginations. As reading is something I’m so passionate about, I also take children for Reading Recovery. I work one on one on literacy skills and improving children’s confidence in themselves in this essential learning area.


Pare-Huia Kaire
Room 4

Pare-Huia's bio
Ko Ngapuhi toku Iwi Ko Patukeha toku hapu Ko Rakaumangamanga toku Maunga Ko Waikare toku awa Ko Ipipiri te Moana Ko Te Rawhiti toku Marae Ko Te Whare rah toku rangatire tupuna Ko Hori Hakaraia te tangata, No reira ko Pare Huia Kaire e Mihi atu nei Tena Koutou Katoa

Olly Davidson
Room 5

Olly's bio
Kia ora! My name is Olly Davidson and I have just started my teaching career at Sunnyvale in 2019. I came to Sunnyvale as a student teacher in 2018 and immediately knew that this was where I wanted to be. I love working with children of all ages and am really enjoying teaching the year 3/4 year level. I am passionate about teaching science and biology in particular, having studied in this field before beginning teaching.

Sarah McMillian-Donze
Room 6



Tom Benzie
Room 7

Tom's bio
Kia ora, My name is Tom Benzie, I am so happy to be joining the Sunnyvale whānau this year. This is my first year teaching and I am ready to hit the ground running. I am from Auckland, born and raised. I believe the importance of having an open-minded teacher who understands and can work with diverse learners. My passion is digital art which I see as a way for children to express their creativity through technology and innovation. I love to have a laugh and bring my humour into new learning experiences. I want to take students at different levels and see them develop together as well as guide students in a way that gives them the room to grow and develop on their own. My personal goal this year is to work with my fellow teachers in Room 7 to create an environment which challenges students to grow socially, emotionally and academically. We have worked hard to create a space which celebrates identity as a form of empowerment while celebrating and appreciating the notion of diversity. Looking forward to an amazing 2020. Ngā mihi, Tom Benzie

Jamie Cunnington
Room 7


Renee Kirk
Room 8

Renee's bio
Kia Ora, Ko Renee Kirk toku ingoa My name is Renee Kirk and I have been teaching for 18 years in 4 schools across Years 3-6. I was born and raised in Auckland. My partner and I have one daughter and we enjoy living in West Auckland. In my spare time I enjoy playing netball, tag and touch rugby. At Sunnyvale I run the sports and PE which I love. One of my favourite parts of teachng year 5-6 is going on school camp. I enjoy learning about students lives and meeting whanau. The classroom door is always open for whanau to visit and chat.

Sean Bishop
Room 8

Sean's bio
Hi I’m Sean, I love sports, technology, maths and science. I love challenging kids to try new things and learn new skills. I have a background in physical education, sports coaching and strength and conditioning. Being physically activity has always been a big part of my life and believe it should be for children also. I strongly feel technology should be used in the classroom as it is so integral to our society, I try to do this in ways that are only beneficial for the child and for learning in my classroom.

Caitlin Gabriel
Room 8

Caitlin's bio
Kia Ora, my name is Caitlin Gabriel. I was born and raised in Auckland. I have been teaching our amazing Year 5/6s in the Sunnyvale Modern Learning Environment for two years now. I came here as a Student Teacher in 2017 and immediately felt a connection with the school culture, students, staff, families and whānau. I have a passion for building relationships and developing social and academic skills in our tamariki that will enable them to be lifelong learners. When I am not teaching I enjoy going to the beach, walking, having picnics, playing board games, reading and sharing a good meal with friends and family.


Rita Tariu
Room 10

Rita's bio
Talofa lava my name is Rita Tariu. It is a pleasure to join the wonderful team here at Sunnyvale Primary School. I have been teaching most of my career in Intermediate School up to high school, but I am enjoying my time learning how to teach a younger audience, in primary. My teaching career started in Christchurch in a Samoan Bilingual Class. I moved to Auckland and taught in Middle School in Otara. It was also a Samoan Bilingual Class from Year 7 to Year 10 students. I continued teaching after I got married to my handsome husband Lino Timothy Tariu and we had a beautiful baby girl Melilynita Florah Mary Tariu, she is now 16 years old and attending high school. I enjoy teaching and helping students to find their potential to succeed academically, culturally and socially in and out of the classroom. The things I love the most is having students that are excited to learn, excited to give anything a go, excited to be at school. I love my parents and my family. I am the eldest of 6. 4 sisters and 1 brother, and my brother is the youngest. Every weekend I try to spend time with my parents, they always spoil me and I love it. My favourite food is chocolate, lollies and Mother drinks. My favourite movies are Korean movies and action movies and I love doing marathons on Korean dramas. I am a hard out Warriors fan, and I don’t care if they win or lose. I truly believe in cheering and supporting your home team. If you see me in the class please don’t hesitate to come in to say Hi and have a chat with me. My dad is Luaufui Iosefa Fa’amausili Tou Collins his villages are Malie and Leauva’a, my mother is Lemau Kalameni Tamala Tasi and her villages are Faleasiu and Fusi. My sisters are Maua, Salai,Toefiliga and Lina and our brother is Faitatou Junior. I am the eldest in my family and I love it. Talofa lava O lou tama o Luaufui Iosefa Fa’amausili Collins e sau i le nu’u o Malie ma Leauva’a i Apia Samoa O lou tina o Lemau Kalameli Tamala Tasi Collins e sau i le nu’u o Faleasiu ma Fusi i Apia Samoa. O lou uso o Maua Kamuhemu, Salai, Toefiliga ma Lina o lou tuagane o Faitatou. O au o le ulumatua o matou aiga. Fa’afetai Lava

Ngā Kākano

Rikki-Leigh Smith
Room 9

Rikki-Leigh's bio
Kia Ora e te Whanau, Ko Orowhana toku maunga Ko Rangiheke te awa Ko Mamari toku waka Ko Te Rarawa me Te Aupouri te iwi Ko Whakamaharatanga te marae Ko Rikki-Leigh ahau. My name is Rikki-Leigh and I will be joining the Sunnyvale whanau in 2020. A little bit about me, my whanau originate from a small town named Herekino in the Far North. Sunnyvale Primary has always been special to me, it is where my four younger siblings were educated, the aroha and manaakitanga I felt and saw when my siblings came here really sealed my decision to become a teacher. Prior to studying to become a teacher, I worked in corporate finance for seven years and completed a Bachelor of Business but I always felt something was missing. Thankfully, I found it with the beautiful tamariki at Sunnyvale. I am really looking forward to a new adventure with you all.

Kim Muriwai



Linda Watson
Senior Teacher ESOL

Linda's bio
Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Ni Hao, Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Malo e Lelei, I am Linda and I have had many different roles here at Sunnyvale! Currently I am teaching ESOL groups and providing some learning support. I am interested in bilingual education and promoting first language use. I grew up in Napier and often visit my family there and am a hurricanes supporter!

Release Teachers

Sue Gauntlett


Samuel Matijevich


Claire Gutry


Office Administration

Juanita Olsen
Accounts Administrator

Juanita's bio
Kia Ora, my name is Juanita and Im part of the Admin Team here at Sunnyvale School. I live in West Auckland and have done so all my life. I love being part of the Sunnyvale family, a great group of staff who work really hard for their students and community. When Im not at work I like catching up with family, watching sports (rugby / netball / softball) and travelling to my favourite place Whangamata

Chē Tiopira
Office Administrator

Chē's bio
Kia Ora Koutou, My name is Che Tiopira, I have lived in Sunnyvale my whole life and have worked at Sunnyvale School for 6 years. I have two Children, Rydah and Cole and a dog named Lunah. I am the youngest of four children, my whanau come from a little town in the Bay of Plenty called Waimana.

Lucas Hemi with assistants Cliffy and Shorty


Pauline Murray

Pauline's bio
I have always loved reading, and am so lucky to be Librarian at Sunnyvale school. We are very lucky to have such a wonderful selection of books in our school library and I can guarantee there is a book to satisfy the interests of every child, even the most reluctant reader. I enjoy watching children of all ages and abilities get pleasure from reading, whether it be for enjoyment or knowledge. During the weekends and school holidays I love to spend time with family, especially my 2 grandsons and I look forward to summer at the beach. Tips to get your child reading Encourage reading at home. Read aloud. The best way to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud to them, and the earlier you start, the better. Let your child see you reading Keep books around your home Visit your local library. Talk about what your child is reading.

Teacher Aides

Renee Tiopira
Teacher Aide Whānau Support

Renee's bio
Kia ora, My name is Renee, I have had 2 children come through Sunnyvale and my daughter who is still currently here. I have worked at Sunnyvale for nearly 5 years.I love working with all our tamariki and whānau. Please don’t hesitate to stop in for a chat. ‘

Angela Frazer

Angela's bio
My two now-adult children (past pupils of this school) my husband and I have been part of the Sunnyvale community close to 24 years, 15 of which have been dedicated to my work as a Teacher Aide at Sunnyvale Primary. I find it a huge privilege to work here, and I enjoy learning more every day along with our beautiful tamariki.

Joanna Pou

Joanna's bio
I have been involved with Sunnyvale Primary for over 20 years and have worked here for 6 years. My husband Steve and I have five children and four grandchildren. I love working at Sunnyvale Primary School with our amazing staff and wonderful children.

Karen Brosnahan

Karen's bio
I have worked at Sunnyvale as a Teacher Aide since 1996 supporting children in class and also taking groups of children helping with oral language and phonics. I love working with children and also work at our After School Care Programme and have been there since 2010. My 3 sons attended Sunnyvale for all their primary schooling which they loved.

Maree Bell


Maree May


Simonne Burr


Tania Shannon

Tania's bio
Hi, I’m Mrs Tania Shannon and I have 3 children that all came to Sunnyvale. I’ve been involved with the school for 13 years and have worked as a Teacher Aide for the past 6 years. It’s a great school and I enjoy working here.

Board of Trustees

Rebecca Greenwood

Rebecca's bio
Kia ora koutou I am a parent and foster parent with 4 of my own children and 2 foster children; my youngest two; Rihari and Hukatai are currently in years 1 and 2. As a proud Pacific woman and as the mother to Maori children I believe in ensuring that the needs and interests of all our community are sought; listened and acted upon. I have worked in Tertiary Education and Libraries as well as in Human Resources and Recruitment and am currently working part time throughout West Auckland Schools developing and delivering Financial Capability and Life Skills programmes. I am excited to be involved with the BOT for a 2nd term and to work with Whaea Katie and our fabulous school team to continue to raise achievement and improve outcomes for all our tamariki.

Flo Murray

Flo's bio
Kia Ora, my name is Flo and I am Cook Island Maori. I have had two of my older children come through Sunnyvale School. I have a daughter who currently attends and my youngest daughter will attend next year. I am looking forward to working with all our school whanau and community.

Philip Dwyer

Philip's bio
My name is Philip Dwyer. My wife Melanie and I have 2 girls, both students at Sunnyvale School. Eloise in year 4 and Samantha in year 2. I work as an IT consultant for a large international company in Auckland for the last 19 years.

Lana Laurenson

Lana's bio
I have two lovely girls, the eldest, Vera, attends Year 2 at Sunnyvale. I am a Playcentre mum with my youngest and am one of two Children’s education officers there. I am a Croatian born New Zealander and speak the language at home with the children. I am also passionate about accessibility and have been studying NZ sign language for some years. I have a background in systems analysis and computers however spent over ten years working at the zoo in keeping and leadership/people management roles. I love contributing to my community and have volunteered at Sunnyvale School, Auckland Deaf Society, NZ Bird Rescue, on a rainbow community phone counselling line – just to name a few. You may have also seen me attempt face painting at the last market to raise funds for the Nikau syndicate zoo trip!

Katie Pennicott

Katie's bio
Kia ora Ko Hikurangi te maunga Ko Waiapu te awa Ko Horouta te waka Ko Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Pākehā, Whenua Moemoea ngā iwi Tena koutou katoa Kia ora koutou, My name is Katie Pennicott (Whaea Katie) and I am your new principal. I am from Invercargill and I have been working in education for 21 years. I am thrilled to be here at Sunnyvale School, in beautiful Auckland. It has been a great pleasure to meet the wonderful students and staff, and I look forward to working with you all and learning together. Please feel welcome to get in touch at any time.

Chris Irving