The Learning Centre

Because Every Child Flourishes With TLC

The Learning Centre in Ponsonby, also known as TLC, is a full day childcare centre, which provides the highest quality of care, with small group sizes, the best teacher to child ratios, and caring, dedicated and qualified teachers. In a villa in Ponsonby, the emphasis is on providing a homely, natural environment with healthy food, and genuinely caring caregiving. 

The Management Team

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Kia ora, my name is Marie Hindle and I am the licensee of TLC. TLC is a family affair, owned by myself, my husband Chris Barrett, and the Hindle Family Trust (my father Liam Hindle, my mother Pauline Hindle, and my sister Kate Vusoniwailala). 

I am originally from an IT background, and TLC came into being as the result of my search for childcare for my children Zach and Annelise, who are both TLC Alumni, and are now at school. What has grown into the TLC philosophy is the result of the kind of loving care that I wanted for my children. I have attended the RIE Foundations Intensive Training and am fully committed to seeing TLC align as closely as possible Magda Gerber's Educaring® Approach. 

Elena Marouchos

Elena Marouchos  - Upstairs Mentor Teacher.

Kia Ora , my name is Elena and I hail from South Africa but have made New Zealand my home.  Becoming an ECE teacher was my dream but prior to this I had a rich and rewarding career as a systems analyst and business consultant.  My education as diverse as my career which afforded me the opportunity to work in various positions which I constantly draw upon.  My primary degree is in Psychology, Public Administration and Personnel managment with a few others collected along the way.  

My passion for working with infants and toddlers began when I visited TLC on a practicum and never left!  My image of children and notions of what quality childcare looks like forever changed and thus began another journey fueled by a desire to know more about the works of Magda Gerber and Dr Emmi Pikler.   I completed the Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood from Auckland University in 2010.   have attended the Pikler intensive summer course in Budapest, completed the RIE foundations course, RIE practicum and currently busy with my RIE internship with Polly Elam


Ania Wojcikowski - Downstairs Mentor Teacher.

Ania is a qualified and fully certificated teacher. Ania has attended the RIE foundations Intensive training, and is part way through the RIE centre based practicum (sometimes referred to RIE II). Ania has also been to the Pikler Summer School. Ania is on the board for the New Zealand Infant and Toddler Consortium (NZITC), a charitable trust. Ania moved downstairs to work with the Kea and then the Tui children as part of a continuity of care. Ania is one of the mentoring teachers for our teacher certification programme using the Educative Mentoring approach. 

Ania has a son Zachary, who is also a TLC alumni and is now at school, and Manawa who is currently at TLC.

The Upstairs Team


Mia Tang - Is a qualified teacher. Originally from China, Mia came to New Zealand to study Early Childhood Education.

Mia came to TLC to do her practicum while studying, and we liked her so much we invited her back as a reliever, and when a full time teaching position became available, we offered her the position.  

Mia has moved from working with our older Tui children to become a Kākano key teacher.

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Alex Neilson - Is  second year early childhood student, and has worked in early childhood since 2012. Alex is a key caregiver in our Kākano room at the moment. Alex is passionate about working with children up to two, and saught out TLC due to her desire to work with us using Magda Gerber's Educaring approach. 

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Strarn Warren is a primary qualified, and provisionally certificated teacher. Strarn worked as maternity cover for us for a while, and then worked as a new entrance teacher before returning to TLC. Strarn is currently a Weka key teacher.


Gemma McAuley

Ko Gemma tōku ingoa.

Nō Auckland ahau. At nineteen years of age, as well as attending art school, I started working part time at a small creche. After completing my art degree, I gained a Graduate Diploma in Teaching ECE in 2010. My passion for working with infants and toddlers was apparent at an early stage in my career. I am genuinely excited by my work, researching in my own time to develop my pedagogical knowledge, revisit child development theories, and form a philosophy based on respectful practice and freedom of movement. I enjoy utilising my art and craft skills to make open-ended resources for children to play with and explore.

I look forward to continuing my learning journey as a member of the TLC whānau along with my son Henry, who will be joining the TLC whānau.

The Downstairs Team


Neeti Ambekar  is currently a Kea key caregiver. Neeti has attended the RIE Foundations training course. Originally a high school teacher in India, specialising in French, English, History  and Geography. Neeti did the Post-Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education in  New Zealand. 

What inspired Neeti to study ECE is to watch the development of language in the early years. .

Janine Brooker  is currently a Kea key caregiver. Janine is a qualified and fully certificated teacher, who has completed the RIE Foundations training and attended the RIE Conference in Los Angeles. 

I am a mother of 3 children and have lived in  the beautiful Waitakere area for over 35 yrs.  I found my passion for working with young children  15yrs ago when I worked in homebased care. I enjoyed meeting the wonderful families and loved the diversity of my community. I was also a passionate playcentre mum and was able to see the benefits of free play for young children, and how adults could support them. I began my formal qualifications in 2005 and gained my diploma in ECE in 2010.  I worked with infants and toddlers in a large centre for 4yrs and it was there, I discovered Magda Gerber's RIE philosophy and Emmi Piklers revolutionary beliefs about how infants learn and develop.  It was a life changing moment and shaped my teaching practice, personal beliefs and values from then on. In my practice I also worked alongside young children and  found magical moments, suprises, challenges and inspiration in each age group. Teaching children under the RIE philosophy just made sense to me, and as I learned more, it answered many questions. It became a way of understanding infants, toddlers and young children as unique individuals and seeing relationships as an integral part of teaching young children.  As my learning journey continued I was honoured to be a part of the RIE foundations course and eventually my biggest wish came true when I got a job at TLC. I am excited to be part of this learning journey and to meet amazing children and their families.  My goal is to continue to learn and grow as a RIE inspired teacher and to feel the joy, working alongside  unique, capable and confident children who teach me something new everyday.

Vera Yang - is a qualified teacher. Vera worked for TLC previously for three and a half years, learning all about our philosophy under Katherine Bussey, when we head hunted Vera to return to our team. 

Vera is mother to Goldwyn, who is a TLC Alumni and now at school. 



Dianne Dawsin - I am a qualified and fully registered Early Childhood Teacher. I have over 20 years experience caring for a range of age groups, and love meeting new families and children from diverse backgrounds. I describe myself as very organised, honest, reliable and hard working. I am friendly, with a sense of humour, and I promote respectful relationships with children and families. My approach to teaching is one of dedication and enthusiasm, and I’m aware that I am always learning and adapting my practice.

I live in Mt Wellington with my husband Peter. I have two adult children Scott and Gemma, and four grandchildren aged four years and under and they are all my pride and joy.

I fell in love with TLC’s natural play environment and I am very excited to be part of their team. I am looking forward to getting to know the children and families that attend the centre as I love the relationships that can be built with families that can last long after they’ve finished at TLC.


Kylie Gorringe - has completed the RIE foundations training. Kylie has returned to TLC with her baby girl Vayda-Lee. Kylie has 5 years of TLC experience, and has done a full continuity of care cycle and has worked with every age group at TLC. Kylie is currently working part time with our older Tui children. 

Support Team


Sanna Cooke is a qualified and fully certificated teacher. Sanna has attended the RIE Foundations intensive training.

I have a little girl, Minna who is a TLC alumni, and who is now at school, a little boy, Moe, who is at TLC, and my third child Suski who is also at TLC.

I am committed to, and passionate about, the philosophy of free movement and respectful interaction. I am a dedicated Early Childhood Professional with diverse industry experience working alongside teachers and families from varied cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. With over 13 years experience in early childhood education and development, I have a strong background in teaching with the Pikler approach.


Nikki Grazier - Is a qualified and fully certificated teacher. Nikki has returned to TLC to work part time with the downstairs team. 

Nikki has done the RIE Foundations training, and has many years of experience teaching in early childhood Niki is also a curriculum champion for the new version of the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki. 

Nikki is mum to Jacob, who is a TLC alumni.

Helen Holmes - is our wonderful cook. Helen is a long time Ponsonby resident. Helen is also an artist and jeweller. 


Amy Heslop - Is our Administrator.

Amy is a qualified and fully certificated teacher and has a little girl Ivy with her partner Tom, who is at TLC.

Amy has worked at TLC for 8 years, as a teacher and brings all that TLC knowledge to the Administrator role.

Plonie Hill - Has been our Administrator for 10 years, and is retiring in December 2018. Plonie manages our enrolment system, and the documentation required by the Ministry of Education. Plonie has worked at TLC for the last seven years, and is an essential part of our community. 

96 Vermont St, Ponsonby, Auckland.                                                              Phone: 09 376 6857