MANZ Staff and Council

Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ) is governed by a voluntary Council and managed by a Chief Executive, Accounts and Administration Officer and a Social Media Officer.

Cathy Wilson, Chief Executive

Cathy commenced working for Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand (MANZ) as the Chief Executive officer in 2015 having been on the MANZ Council from 2011 to 2015 and the treasurer since 2013. She is from a teaching background, having worked at Upper Valley Montessori and Mana Montessori before joining Wā Ora Montessori School in Lower Hutt in 1998, where she was the deputy principal. Cathy is both State and Associated Montessori Internationale (AMI) teacher trained from 0-18 years. She has worked as a tutor for Aperfield Montessori, delivered numerous workshops for the Early Childhood Council, Victoria University and MANZ and presented at Early Childhood Council and MANZ conferences. Cathy represents MANZ on many Ministry of Education, Teaching Council, Education Review Office and NZQA governance and advisory groups as well as two global boards.

You can email Cathy on

Laurel Kerr, Administration and Accounts Officer

Laurel joined the MANZ team in March 2022. Laurel has experience in Chartered Accounting firms up to Practice Manager level and commercial accounting in Healthcare, Hospitality, Legal and Not for Profit sectors. Having volunteered & served as a Committee Member, Treasurer, Secretary and Vice President for various sports clubs, including serving as a Central Regions Board Member for Gymnastics New Zealand, Laurel has experience in the Not-for-Profit sector from all angles.

You can email Laurel on

Jen Day, Social Media Officer

Jen commenced working for MANZ in 2022 as the Social Media officer. She has been involved in Montessori since 2009, joining Wā Ora Montessori straight from Teachers College. Completing her AMI 3-6 training in Hangzhou, China, she values how Montessori education is not just within the classroom; it is internationally a way of life. Tamariki are raised in different homes, environments and countries, yet all have the same human tendencies and needs. Jen has worked in the Bambini and Casa environments in Wellington, Auckland and now Feilding. She loves parenting her own two young tamariki and guiding children in her class through the outdoors, encouraging curiosity and freedom in the incredibly beautiful natural environments we are so fortunate to have in Aotearoa New Zealand.

You can email Jen on

Gillian Somers, MANZ President

Gillian became the president of MANZ after the 2014 AGM. She was co-opted to MANZ Council in August 2007, elected in April 2008 and re-elected in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2020.

She is the principal of New Zealand’s oldest Montessori School. Gillian completed her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) 3-6 and 6-12 training in her native Ireland and then moved to New Zealand in the early 1990s. She taught at New Plymouth Montessori School and undertook her Diploma in Teaching Early Childhood Education. In 2005, Gillian took over as principal. The school comprises 100 children from 3 – 6 years old and supports a Montessori primary unit. Gillian was the chair of the original Montessori Journey to Excellence Te ara ki huhuatanga Working Group in 2011/2012.

Michela Homer, MANZ Vice President

Tēnā tatou katoa
Ko Magaliesburg te maunga
Ko Vaal te awa
Ko Cathy Pacific te wakarererangi
No Āwherika ki te Tonga ahau
Kei te noho au Whanganui a Tara
Ko Guido tōku matua
Ko Audrey tōku whaea
Ko Michael tōku  tane
Ko Luke me Georgina tōku tamariki
Kei Busy bees aha e mahi ana
Ko Michela toku ingoa
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

Michela was elected to MANZ Council in 2013 and was re-elected in 2015, 2018 and 2021. She is currently the Regional Manager for Provincial Education.  She completed her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) 3-6 diploma in London in 1994 and worked in two very diverse Montessori centres in the U.K. When Michela moved to NZ, she was privileged to work as the centre manager for a small Montessori centre in Tauranga for two years and loved seeing Montessori in Aotearoa truly make a difference in children’s lives. Michela chaired the Re-Working Party for Montessori Journey to Excellence Te ara ki huhuatanga: Essential Elements, which was published in 2019.

Anne-Marie Love, MANZ Treasurer

Anne-Marie was elected onto MANZ Council in 2014 and to the Treasurer position in 2016. She is the managing teacher at the Montessori Children’s House in Wanaka. Anne-Marie has been teaching in a Montessori early childhood environment for 25 years. After completing her Montessori diploma and working for a year in London, she returned to Dunedin. In 1998 the opportunity arose for her to take up the role as head teacher in Wanaka, and she now leads a staff of 10. Anne-Marie has been a participant in the Montessori Journey to Excellence Pilot Programme (2013-14), and Montessori Children’s House was a finalist in the inaugural Dr Nicola Chisnall Memorial Award in 2014. Anne-Marie completed her Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) 3-6 training in Auckland in 2017.

Krista Kerr, Council Member

Krista has been involved in Montessori since starting as a parent in 2005 with her baby at a playgroup at Wā Ora Montessori in Lower Hutt. Discovering that Montessori was something that she wanted for herself as well as her children, she began her journey by gaining her Early Childhood Education Post Graduate Diploma from Victoria University in 2008. After teaching for six months, she then moved with her family to London to do the AMI 3-6 Diploma, followed by the Post Diploma Observation Course, returning in 2012 to take up her current position as a Head Teacher.

After being involved in various things such as running Observation Workshops, Conference speaking and being part of the Reworking Party for MJ2Ex, Krista is now excited to be part of MANZ Council since 2019 and continued her journey in Montessori in Aotearoa. She also enjoys watching her two sons continue theirs, both now in High school at Wā Ora.

Mamira Ali, Council Member

Ko K2  tōku māunga
Ko Indus tōku awa
Nō Pakistan ahau
Kei Kirikiriroa tōku kāinga ināianei
Ko Ali tōku Matua
Ko Atia  tōku Whaea
Ko Mamira tōku ingoa

Mamira Ali owns Montessori House of Children Hamilton. She trained as a Montessori Teacher in Pakistan in 1998, has a bachelor’s in Education and over 20 years of experience in Montessori teaching. She has established two Montessori pre-schools which has included environments for under 2s. Mamira attended a Montessori preschool as a child, and her three tamariki have all been Montessori educated. A passionate advocate for Montessori education, Mamira was co-opted for MANZ Council in 2014 and re-elected since. Mamira believes that MANZ has plays a key role in promoting Montessori education in Aotearoa, supporting Montessori kaiako and giving our Montessori community a voice on a National level. She is proud to be a part of an organisation that is making a positive impact for Montessori in Aotearoa context.

Victoria Denyer, Council Member

Victoria was elected to MANZ Council in 2018 and is currently Curriculum Leader for BestStart Montessori Bethlehem in Tauranga, a community catering for 90 tamariki aged 6 months to 6 years.

Coming to Montessori education via her two children over a decade ago, Victoria has a 3-6 Montessori teaching qualification via Aperfield Montessori Trust as well as a BA in French, an MSc in Global Politics and in 2018 completed a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (ECE).

Steven Arnold, Council Member

Steven is the founding principal of Peace Experiment, a Montessori Secondary Education programme in Auckland. He also lectures on TIES – an online Masters in Montessori Education, and is currently studying for his own doctorate in “Education as a Peace Process”. Steven is active within the United Nations Association. Steven lectured in Montessori Education at AUT until that programme was closed down. Steven continues being a passionate Montessori educator, a career spanning over 25 years.