The Team


Meet the teaching team at Harakeke:

Gundula Montag-Ruebsam


My name is Gundula. I live right next door with my partner Johannes. We have 2 grown up children. Both Johannes and I were born and raised in Germany  more than half a decade ago and came to live in NZ in 1986—the best place to be!

I have been either training or working in the Early Childhood sector ever since I left
secondary school, both back in Germany in my younger years where I trained as a Kindergarten teacher and again here in NZ where I gained a postgraduate Diploma in Teaching People with Special Teaching Needs.
I consider myself as being very lucky that I knew at a very young age what I wanted to do, where my passion was and still is.

Establishing Harakeke is the result of this passion and a dream I held for a long time.

As a child I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where nature was there to be investigated and explored fully. Not alone but together with a group of neighbourhood children. We were able to walk into a nearby small forest and had meadows right at our door steps. Playing outside, exploring ‘our' world together, we learned about relationships, problem solving, risk taking, making decisions, choices, dealing with conflict, understanding concepts and  developing working theories about the physical world around us.

I want Harakeke to be the place where your children can have similar positive learning experiences and where happy, joyful childhood memories are created.

Nyssa Lewis-Smith

Ciao, mi chiamo Nyssa. I am a Kiwi/Scot, having spent my life dancing between NZ and the U.K.  I met my partner Eugenio whilst working at an international school in Rome and persuaded him to hop on a plane and join me in embracing life in Aotearoa; he is also an Early Childhood teacher. We have a son, Luigi, who was fortunate to spend his preschool years here at Harakeke. He now continues his learning journey at school.

I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to work/play at Harakeke. I am passionate about building respectful and nurturing relationships with nga tamariki and their whānau as I believe that the relationship is key in laying down the foundations in a young child's learning journey! I enjoy providing opportunities for children to express and explore their creativity and imagination, using a range of artistic tools and canvases. I also love exploring the wonderful outdoors, and if there's water involved, I'll be there.

I completed my studies at Victoria University in Wellington, gaining a BA/BTeach degree in Early Childhood Education and English Literature. I also have a diploma in Multimedia Design and Digital Animation from Cumbria Institute of the Arts in England.

I look forward to getting to know you and your child as your child embarks on their learning journey here at Harakeke.



Lucy Anderson

I’ve enjoyed living in the beautiful Motueka region since 2015. I grew up in Christchurch and was lucky to experience 3 years of Steiner education as well as a childhood exploring local creeks, parks, beaches and forests. 

I’ve been working with children since leaving High School as it’s always been a strong calling. I worked as a Special Needs teacher aide and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology before travelling to rural Japan to teach English for 3 years. On my return I completed a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Primary), and have worked as a New Entrant teacher for the last 14 years (in Christchurch and at Riwaka School).


I highly value play based and nature based education and feel so lucky to have the opportunity to join the dedicated team and amazing whānau here at Harakeke. I enjoy flax weaving, gardening, kayaking and practising yoga in my spare time. I’m excited to meet you all and to support you and your child to enjoy many positive learning experiences here with us.


Marlen Kelbert

Kia ora koutou! My name is Marlen and I come with my daughter Māia in tow. My whole working life I have been passionate about working with people. I started my career by studying social services and working as a disability support worker. From there I worked alongside the elderly, mentally unwell, as well as injured. My focus ended up being Mental Health and it became very quickly clear to me that the foundation of a healthy mental state lies in a healthy start in life and therefore in the early years. From there I enrolled into teachers training and gained my Bachelor's degree as an Early Childhood Teacher in 2019 while working at Nature Kids Early Childhood Education Centre.

I’ve since had my own child and worked for SPACE, a baby education group for parents and their babies as well as Playcentre. I am super passionate about creating an environment where tamariki can learn to love and nurture the world around them, where they can be creative, and passionate and take responsibility for themselves and papatūānuku; a place where tamariki can make positive memories and build a solid foundation for the rest of their lives.

So far, I have gained my Diploma in Mental Health Support Work, and a bachelor's degree in Teaching (ECE), I also am a certified life coach and am working (very slowly) towards my psychology degree. In my own time, I like to spend time with my whānau, go running or explore nature. 

Roshana Ross



Ko Ruapehu te Maunga

Ko Whanganui te Awa

Ko Aotea te Waka

Ko Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi te Iwi

Ko Ōtoko te Marae

Tihei, Mauri Ora!


Kia Ora Koutou,

My name is Roshana and I have been living in the Tasman region for the past 5 years. I am a blessed māma of 3 tamariki Awa, Ocean and Amaia – Rain.

I am nearing my third and final year as a student studying towards my Batchelor’s  Degree in Teaching Early Childhood Education through Te Rito Maioha. I grew up in rural Rangitikei where I finished High School and took a very long gap year and found myself travelling between New Zealand and Australia working in the shearing industry. I was drawn to early childhood education after having my own tamariki.  After realizing how crucial these early years are for a child’s overall development  it was obvious that I wanted to help tamariki become the best versions of themselves. I am truly grateful to work alongside a committed team of kaiako and be part of a centre that provides quality education, is culturally responsive and, establishes a sense of whanaungatanga within our whānau. I love that Harakeke provides a natural environment for tamariki which stimulates the diversity of children’s play experiences and creates awareness around the importance of taking care of our tāiao/environment. In my spare time I love getting creative and making crystal jewellery and exploring around the ocean, rivers, and lakes.

Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia ō tātou mahi – Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou katoa.