My name is Janine O’Connor. I bring to your community an extensive background in education with experience teaching in state and special character schools within New Zealand and an international school in Singapore. Throughout this time, I have worked alongside learners ranging in age from 5 to 12 years. While always being a full time classroom teacher, I have enjoyed all opportunities to engage in new learning that helps children succeed. This means I have many skills to bring to Room 18 while also benefiting from the rich learning opportunities available there. 

Historically, my family have all been involved in surf lifesaving influenced by my Dad who grew up in Waihi. He loved competing in the surf boats and was still competing when he was 72! I have been a lifeguard too and now both of my children are lifeguards who have competed for Waihi, Mount and Omanu. My son Lochlainn is 19, loves swimming and surf lifesaving and makes us super proud in all that he does. He had a great year in 2019, representing New Zealand at the International Lifesaving Champs held in Durban, South Africa and of course we went to watch and cheer. My daughter Dannielle is older, but has also represented New Zealand at Surf Life Saving in the past. Now she lives and works in Hamilton and will soon take up a new job as a graduate lawyer. 

My husband Sean and I have shifted homes many times. We both enjoy the beach and moved to Tauranga to be closer to the sea and Waihi Beach, from Hamilton, way back in 2003. When we first met he was a builder, and so we love to design and build new homes and gardens. We are looking forward to our new project which is building our “forever” home in the Papamoa area. Sean currently works part time as a paramedic for St John Ambulance Service and occasionally calls in to see me at work so don’t be alarmed if you see an ambulance near school!

Janine O'Connor
Lead Teacher 6–12

I am excited to be starting my Montessori journey at Arataki School. Montessori education aligns perfectly with my holistic approach, as a mother and teacher. 

As an experienced educator, I have spent time teaching in Auckland, London and Rotorua. I have always enjoyed promoting exploration, creativity, and self-directed learning. My passion for empowering my tamariki at home and in the classroom to become future-focussed learners, learn practical life skills and develop a thirst for knowledge, makes Montessori the perfect environment for me. 

My husband James and I have two young boys, Oscar is 6 and Hugo is 2. We also have a fur boy called Kyan, who is a Hungarian Vizsla. We live in Papamoa and enjoy going to the beach, swimming, camping, bike riding and being out exploring in nature. We like being creative together through projects including up-cycling furniture, wooden crafts, macrame, cooking, baking, painting and gardening. 

I look forward to meeting more of you in the Montessori community and learning more about Montessori education through completion of  NAMC training.


Darniel Natzka
Practical Life / 6-12 Teacher