A passion for nurturing young minds

Anehera Otimi
  • Full-time teacher, My Treehut
  • Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui, Hauraki

A passion for nurturing young minds led Anehera Otimi to a career in early childhood education.  

Ko Tongariro te Maunga

Ko Taupō-nui-a-Tia te Moana

Ko Te Arawa te Waka

Ko Tūwharetoa te Iwi

Ko Te Heuheu te Tangata

Ko Ngāti Turumakina te Hapu

Ko Waihikahakaharoa te Whakamarumaru.

Ko Anehera Kuikui Otimi ahau.


A passion for nurturing young minds led Anehera Otimi to a career in early childhood education.

After meeting a practicum student at her workplace in Taupo, she decided it was time to gain a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) to open up te reo to all tamariki.


Life-long passion


After working in early childhood settings as a relief teacher and teacher, Anehera Otimi (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui, Hauraki) knew it was the career path for her.

“My family is in the teaching industry. My grandfather was a principal and my mum and her sisters were teachers, so my family background in education saw me aspiring to do the same,” Anehera explains.

“Coming from a big Māori family, looking after family has always been really important. It’s manaakitanga and it’s part of who we are, so that inspired me to get in early childhood teaching.”

Anehera has spent the last six years as a relief teacher at My Treehut in Taupo, and as a teacher at Kōhanga Reo. An encounter with an Open Polytechnic student who was undertaking her Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) practicum at My Treehut saw Anehera look at gaining her own qualification.

“We had a practicum student here in her last year and she was amazing. I was unsure whether I wanted to study, and she spoke to me about how I could get my qualification while studying so I didn’t have to be a reliever my whole life. She connected me with Open Polytechnic’s regional contact, I got to meet and greet her and she filled me in on the course and distance study.”


Distance learning


Anehera was seeking flexibility around work and study, which led her to enrolling with Open Polytechnic in the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) programme.

“I wanted something where I could work at the same time and studying with Open Polytech enabled that. I thought I was going to fail because it’s online, and I’m a face to face person that likes discussion, debate, and being able to ask questions. But it did work for me.”

Anehera kept working with My Treehut four days a week, while reserving one day a week for study. “Working in early childhood while studying, that pushed me every day to not fail our children.”

She found the early childhood workshops particularly helpful, commenting, “I always left with my basket of knowledge full of new things I had learnt. There were a lot of little things that I took on board to further my teaching practices and to further my work with tamariki. The workshops about child development and the history behind early childhood education were really great.”

Anehera found strong support in her regional lecturer, mentors and the study materials provided. “They were so easy to work with. My grandfather taught my regional lecturer at school and because of that she expected a lot from me. She always pushed me and she was so supportive. I would consider her one of my aunties now. I could ring her any time of the day and she’d breakdown things for me and give advice.”

“I’m a very practical person so I was one of those students hounding tutors like, ‘can you give me guidance’, and they’d send me slideshows so I could visualise things, so that was really helpful.”


Studying her way


Anehera loved that she could submit her assignments in Te Reo Māori. “I went to orientation and had a discussion with my lecturer and she said I could do my assignments in Te Reo Māori as they had someone who was able to mark me, so that that was amazing for me being able to submit in my first language.”

“It made me want to strive even harder doing my assignments in te reo. At first I doubted myself, so being able to do it in my first language really helped,” she says.

“I translated all my materials from English to Te Reo Māori. In each assignment, there was different sections that broke down the criteria of assignment, so that made it really easy for me to translate and know what needed to be done.”


Teaching our tamariki


Anehera now works as a full-time teacher at My Treehut, a natural resource early childhood centre, and she’s excited to be putting the skills she’s learnt to use in the workplace.

“I really enjoyed learning about why observations and reflections are important and capturing things during a child’s development – a running records, seeing a child’s growth from prior reflections, and documenting what they’ve learnt. If I’m watching a child, it’s a learning outcome which I find really interested.”

At My Treehut, she gets to share her passion for te reo and te ao Māori while embracing other children’s backgrounds.

“Throughout the children’s play, I try to incorporate as much te reo as possible, so we do karakia and waiata before we start our day. I love getting to learn other children’s backgrounds, because we’re all about looking after others here and learning other cultures and languages. If our families can speak other languages, we try to incorporate it into the classroom so we’re embracing all our tamariki.”


Furthering Te Reo Māori


Anehera loved working at Kohanga Reo earlier in her career, but she felt she could expose more people to Te Reo Māori by working in private centres.

“Eighty percent of the children at kohanga were Māori, and I knew if I went into early childhood, I could teach the reo and open it up to more people. A lot of children learn it at primary, but there’s much less of it in the beginning when they’re babies. By the time they leave for primary school, they’ll have more of an understanding because they’re sponges and take in everything.”

She hopes to continue her journey in the education sector teaching all children about tikanga and Te Reo Māori.

“I really want to work with the Ministry of Education as a Māori advisor in the sector to further our language and give more opportunities to people who would like to learn our language, how to have a better understanding of our language, and what that means to us as Māori,” Anehera says.

“At the moment I’d like to stay in the early childhood space. I find there’s more to be done in that area. We’re so focussed on children at primary school, but we forget our babies and that’s where the foundation is, so that’s where my focus is.”

Coming from a big Māori family, looking after family has always been really important. It’s manaakitanga and it’s part of who we are, so that inspired me to get into early childhood teaching.