Our Staff

Katherine Pascoe


Katherine's core focus is on nurturing and growing students into future leaders who can achieve their full potential.

An experienced Principal, Katherine's passion lies in innovative and strategic thinking and she is committed to lifelong learning.

Katherine has a keen interest in digital technologies and a deep commitment to te reo Māori and cultural identity, recognizing the importance of connecting education with students' backgrounds.

As a Principal she is engaged, available and an active communicator, so you will see her on duty at the gate, visiting classes, chatting with staff, parents and tamariki and at numerous community events.


Amanda O'Dowda

Deputy Principal - Tuakana (Senior School)

An innovative and passionate educator and leader, Amanda joined our team in 2019, having worked at a variety of schools from large city, primary and intermediate, to small rural.

Amanda is a strong believer and advocate of Learner Agency, who believes that learners are more engaged, and therefore make increased progress, if they have choice in their own learning.

In 2024, Amanda is our Associate Principal for the senior school (Tuakana) and a cross school teacher in the New Plymouth Kahui Ako.


Micaela Westrupp

Deputy Principal - Teina (Junior School)

Part of our team since 2022, Micaela believes passionately that building curiosity and using a strength based approach helps to build a foundation that ākonga can feel safe to explore and take risks.

Having previously worked as an outdoor education instructor, Micaela sees the value in all of us being in nature, using our bodies, collaborating and supporting each other through challenge by choice.


Avon Lewis

Teacher, Year 7&8

Avon joined the Puketapu School team in 2019 after moving back home from playing rugby overseas.

A keen rugby player with more than 100 games for Inglewood, he is also an experienced teacher who believes that kids learn best when they feel valued and have a sense of belonging at school.

His teaching is based around empowering students to take ownership of their learning through multiple pathways including digital technologies and creative expression.

Avon looks to teach in a fun, challenging, and innovative style, encouraging students to be creative problem-solvers who can think for themselves, fostering critical thinking so that students can explore education in their own unique way.


Andrea Tait

Teacher, Year 7&8

While on paper Andrea is a beginning teacher (now in her second year), she is not a novice teacher, having been a teacher aide for nine years, relief teacher for two years and successfully raised
three children of her own!

Andrea understands that each child has unique abilities, and is skilled at building meaningful relationships with students.

Andrea has a broad range of interests, has coached primary level netball, soccer and athletics, enjoy drama and is deeply interested in ecology and sustainability. She also has a great sense of humour.


Cara Knuckey

Teacher, Year 7&8

An ex Puketapu School pupil herself, Cara joined our teaching team in 2019 as a newly qualified teacher, so you could say Cara has Puketapu in her blood.

Cara is passionate about the abilities of all students and especially loves those lightbulb moments when a students gets something for the first time.

Cara is also continuing her own learning journey by learning te reo Māori.


Karen Copestake

Teacher, Design Technology

Karen has been part of our team since 2023, providing classroom release for the senior school.

In 2024, Karen takes on the role of Design & Technology teacher, educating Year 7&8 students in practical and creative skills, guiding students through the process of ideation, prototyping, and creating tangible products while also imparting knowledge about materials, tools, and relevant technologies. 


Brody Lindsay

Teacher, Year 6&7

We first met Matua Brody as a Learning Assistant while he trained as a teacher.

Brody quickly become a key part of our team. His attitude towards whānaungatanga matches the idea of connecting locally to our community and he is a great sports coach too.

Matua Brody reminds us that as a boy Richie McCaw wanted to be an All Black and his Uncle told him “you don't just want to be an All Black, you want to be a great All Black”. Matua Brody strives not just to be a teacher but to be a great teacher, a teacher who is a life-long learner who actively demonstrates all the Puketapu School values.


Flo Gibson-Harris

Teacher, Year 5&6

Flo's vision as a teacher is to encourage and support students to become the best they can be. She aims to inspire students to use their imagination and extend their knowledge independently, valuing each child as the unique individual they are and will support them to achieve to the best of their ability.

Flo believes that if students feel respected, comfortable, and happy within their classroom, they will be more open to learning.

A key strength is her ability to develop strong relationships with children, staff, family/whānau, which is extremely important as it fosters trust and allows children to become confident, connected and life-long learners.


Jess McLeod

Teacher, Year 5&6

Originally from Taupō, Jess is not only a netball player and downhill skier, but also an individual who fully appreciates all that Aotearoa has to offer, bringing an active element to the Puketapu learning environment.

Jess believes it is important to empower tamariki to take control of their learning and be a contributing member of their community.


Milly Tuheke

Teacher, Year 5&6

We met Milly in 2017 when she completed her student placement in our junior school.

She taught at Woodleigh School for 4 years before taking a year off to have her son, Tatum. Milly has slipped seamlessly back into being a kaiako. She believes that mistakes are learning opportunities and loves making lessons fun for her students. Milly enjoys spending time with her whānau, working out, strengthening her te reo Māori and playing netball.


Michelle Swan

Teacher, Year 5&6

A recent arrival to Taranaki, Michelle is an experienced teacher who thrives on working collaboratively. She believes in inclusion in all areas of schooling, ensuring Te Tiriti o Waitangi is reflected in her teaching practice.

Michelle enjoys teaching all aspects of the curriculum, with a special interest in literacy. She encourages students to hold high expectations of themselves in all areas of school life and believes in co-constructing engaging lessons that are relevant, hands on and responsive to the learning needs of each student.


Kelly Harvey

Teacher, Year 3&4

Passionate about our environment and community, Kelly believes fostering a love of learning is just as important as the skills themselves and children best learn when it is memorable and fun.

She is passionate about the importance of establishing early foundational skills in reading, writing, and speaking to boost overall learn

Kelly also promotes environmental consciousness, believing that integrating topics like gardening, conservation, recycling, and renewable resources contributes to a well-rounded education and empowers children to make a positive impact on the world.


Louisa Sharrock

Teacher, Year 3&4

A local girl who still lives in Bell Block, Louisa loves to read and to swim and enjoys teaching swimming during the summer months.

Louisa’s mantra: “The kids that we teach may not remember what it is that we have taught them, but they will always remember how we made them feel, so I do my utmost to ensure that they always leave me with a smile on their face and a giggle in their heart.”


Vicki Pihama

Teacher, Year 3&4

Vicki has a wide range of experiences in teaching and taught for 15 years in an Immersion Maori setting and teaching in Western Australia for 10 years.

Vicki loves spending time with her whanau, tamariki and mokopuna and is looking forward to growing her own vegetables and tending her very large flower garden in her spare time. Te Reo Maori has been a lifetime passion and she loves being able to share her knowledge and reo.

Supporting and guiding tamariki to be the best that they can be and providing a safe environment to work is an important aspect of her classroom. "Ka whangaia, ka tupu, ka puawai." That which is nurtured, blossoms then grows.


Priyanka Prasad

Teacher, Year 3&4

A former student of Puketapu School and now one of our newest teachers, Priya loves seeing the values she learned and still remembers followed by the ākonga now. Priya believes that doing our best and achieving higher starts with the courage within ourselves, leading to growth and confidence.

Priya enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring new places, hiking on Mt Taranaki and loves the beach, to relax and enjoy surfing or walking, or just viewing and listening to the peaceful surroundings.
She is also very creative, engaging in projects such as creating costumes, clothing, paintings, drawings.


Alisha Kerr

Teacher, Year 3&4

New to our teaching team for 2024, Alisha is already well known at our school having worked with whānau and staff to support students with additional learning and behavioural needs.

With a  Master’s degree in Specialist Teaching: Learning and Behaviour, 12 years experience teaching in Australia, USA and United Arab Emirates, Alisha has a broad range of skills and is very passionate about education. 

She has a clear passion for inclusive education, supporting positive behaviour strategies, wellbeing, kindness, cultural responsive practice, trauma informed education and empowering and coaching teachers. Alisha is very passionate about literacy and the importance of engaging students in learning in a way to make them willing learners, building positive relationships and creating an environment that encourages students to be happy. 


Laurie Edwin

Teacher, Year 1&2

A former Puketapu student who loved our kura so much, Laurie became a teacher so she could come back and give back!

Laurie is a passionate educator who cares deeply about growing the minds of the community she was raised in. Laurie believes building strong relationships with tamariki form the foundations for a thriving learning environment.

Laurie's mantra: "Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."


Melissa Lane

Teacher, Year 1&2

New to the Puketapu team in 2024, Mel has over 16 years of experience in primary and early childhood education, consistently building strong relationships with students and their families.

Mel is committed to data-driven decision-making and the improvement of teaching and learning outcomes and is dedicated to fostering excellence within the teaching profession. 

She has specialised knowledge in Structured Literacy and Digital Fluency and strength to support complex learning needs, actively promote student inquiry, community connections, and cultural responsiveness in learning. 

Mel loves travelling around NZ and having adventures with her husband and two teenage children.



Samantha Love

Teacher, Year 1&2

New to our teaching team for 2024, Sammy's interest in early childhood development and the processes around settling and transition, inevitably led to her following a career as a New Entrant teacher.

She has a special interest in working with children who have extra learning needs and strength in the early stages of learning and development.

Sammy has a passion for learning and enjoys going down the rabbit hole of where the students interest takes them. She is a strong believer in not squashing but letting individual personalities shine and building up confidence and a sense of self worth, growing independent, resilient and confident learners.

Moana Te Waaka

Teacher, Year 1

Moana's favourite way to spend her time is being with her five children and mokopuna. Kai, music and being active are important to her whānau and they can quite often be seen running the sand dune at Back Beach together.

Hongona is important to Moana, connecting with taiao - the natural world, in the garden, beach, or forests. Moana's Kuia taught her, when we look after te taiao it will look after us.

Connecting with tamariki,  seeing them and honouring them for who they are and supporting them with who they are growing to be is Moana's passion and is at the heart of her teaching.

Connecting with community, it takes a Pā to raise our tamariki and we need each other to do this successfully!


Marina Collier

Release Teacher

Marina has been part of our Puketapu team for several years and has taught in many year groups over that time.

A keen sports player, Marina also loves art and food. Although originally from Australia, Marina has been learning te reo Māori for several years and enjoys trying to weave this through teaching practices.


Phil Hoskin

Kapa Haka and Tikanga Māori Specialist Teacher

Kei ngā maunga, kei ngā awa o ngā hau e wha, tēnā kōutōu katoa.
Phil was born and bred here in Bell Block and was an ex student and teacher at Puketapu School. His passion is learning and teaching Te Ao Māori and kapahaka to tamariki. He enjoys hanging out with his whānau and friends and in his spare time he loves riding his motorbike, playing music and creating different types of art.


Caroline Den-McKay

Specialist Literacy Teacher

A lifelong learner, Caro passionately believes in following the evidence about how the brain learns to read and continues to grow her knowledge and skills in the field of the Science of Reading. Caro loves seeing learners experience success with literacy and the impact this has on their self-esteem. Caro has three children: two of whom currently attend Puketapu School. Caro has recently been on a journey of discovery with te Reo Māori and in her spare time, she loves to entertain audiences with her singing!


Shirlene Paterson

Release Teacher

Whaea Shirlene has specialist interests in Mathematics, Science and Literacy and she is a super-creative person - she loves using fibres for creativity such as knitting and spinning and felting.

Michele Oldfield

Learning Assistant

Michele is a key part of our Learning Assistant team, working with many students over the years - so many years that she left and came back again! Michele loves the people - adults and staff and loves being part of a great team. Away from school Michele loves knitting, reading and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Sandra Fonoti

Learning Assistant

A Bell Block local, Sandra is a key part of our Learning Assistant team, working with many students from new entrants all the way through to Year 8s over the years.

Sandra's specialty is working with students with high health needs.

Sandra is also a mother to three children who have all been a part of the Puketapu School whānau. When she isn't at school, Sandra enjoys reading, bush walks and spending time with her pets.

Sarah Greenfield

Learning Assistant

A relatively recent ‘import’ to Bell Block, Sarah joined the Learning Assistant team in 2023.

Mum to two Puketapu students, she is passionate about improving wellbeing of tamariki so will be starting study in 2024 to become a clinical psychologist.

Yugi Kosuru

Learning Assistant

New to our Learning Assistant team in 2022, Yugihas become a key part of our team.

Siale Liddicoat

Learning Assistant

New to our team in 2023, Siale was born and raised in Taranaki.

Mum of two boys, Siale loves making pounamu and her other passion is chocolate!

Perry Lawrence

Learning Assistant

Originally from Waverley, Perry is now a New Plymouth resident and plays rugby for New Plymouth Old Boys.

As well as having a passion for rugby, Perry loves Lego.

Perry says his favourite part of his job is taking games at break time - we know our tamariki love this too!

Krystal Read-Gray

Learning Assistant

Krystal grew up around the coast in Rahotu but is now a Bell Block local who believes education is a power source for the growth and development of young minds to aspire to be their best selves in the future.

Although she describes herself as a home-body, Krystal doesn't have much time to be at home - she is the owner and coordinator of Kelly Club Bell Block, running after school and holiday programmes out of Bell Block School so when she finishes her day with us, she heads off to her other job!







Letitia White

Youth Worker

Letitia is employed as a youth worker to work with tamariki from all year groups. While she says she "hangs out, chats and does fun stuff" in reality she is supporting many young people in building positive relationships, teaching social skills and regulating emotions.

She is passionate about working with young people and says one of the best things is seeing tamariki notice their own growth, recognising how they can made positive change.

As well as working at school, Letitia is the co-ordinator for the Taranaki Good Seed Out of School Care services.

Raymond Quince


Truly one of the essential members of staff, Mr Quince looks after our fabulous grounds, keeping everything safe and tidy and working well. As well as being our Mr Fix-It around the school, he is also our IT guru, making sure our technology works correctly, iPads, computers and internet and the many BYOD devices onsite.

Kerie Smith

Office & Attendance

One of the friendly faces you see when you arrive in the office, Whaea Kerie is a first point of contact for enrolments, messages or questions and looking after our tamariki and teachers. Originally from Kāpiti, Whaea Kerie loves living in New Plymouth and describes working at Puketapu School as her dream job.

Paula Martin

School Administrator

One of the two friendly faces you see when you arrive in the office, Whaea Paula is a first point of contact for enrolments, messages or questions and takes care of much of the school’s administration. Originally from Taranaki, she spent several years living in London and now uses her corporate world experience to ensure the smooth running of the school.

Teresa Julian

Head Chef, Kitchen Team

Teresa's passion and love for cooking started back when she was child watching her Mum in the kitchen, who said “the secret ingredient for anything you make is love.” Teresa has lived by this philosophy ever since and is now carrying this into providing healthy, nutritious lunches for all our tamariki every day.

Charlotte McGoldrick

Sous Chef, Kitchen Team

A Bell Block local, Charlotte is an experienced chef who is also passionate about our environment and loves to grow vegetables and mushrooms. Charlotte is very community minded and has been a volunteer firefighter in Australia's bush fires. She also has a secret butter chicken recipe that is AMAZING!

Sharron Arbuckle

Kitchen Team

A familiar face in Bell Block, Sharron joined our kitchen team at the start of 2022.

Sharron now helps to provide healthy, delicious lunches to all our tamariki every day, and always with a smile.

25 Dillon Drive,
Bell Block,
New Plymouth.

Main Reception
Phone 06 755-0973
©2022 Te Kura o Puketapu
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram