He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Once upon a time ...

In an Auckland early learning centre in 2013, a Slovakian woman met a Kiwi gal!  There was a spark of shared vision to nurture and connect families and their children. 

In our experiences of mothering, teaching and facilitating we became increasingly concerned at the general state of people's mental health.  We witnessed and felt the isolation, overload and burnout of nurturers.  Yearning for, finding and reigniting a sense of balance and sense of life was a spoken and unspoken desire of many.  In knowing the well-being of the nurturer is inseparable to the child's, and that this beautiful approach supports all ages, we knew we could help—and so in November 2018 Nurture People Charitable Trust was born. 

Through our parent groups and connections, we are blessed to now be part of a village of people who want to support and grow this approach into homes, learning centres, workplaces and communities.   

The movers and shakers behind Nurture People

Our people bring a richness of passions and skills to move culture of kindness forward.

Tineke Sutton

Co-founder & Co-director

B Mus, Dip Tchg (Secondary/Intermediate), Tchg Recert (Primary), GradDip Tchg (Early Childhood)

Nurturing and teaching has been my life for almost 30 years.  In having a second ‘miracle’ baby at 40, I finally decided to listen to my early childhood-trained mother and read Pennie Brownlee's book Dance with me in the Heart, discovering my true heart and passion lay with Dr. Emmi Pikler's natural, kind and respectful approach. I incorporated this approach into my own family life and the positive difference it made was immeasurable. I knew then that I had to share it with others. 
My mother Yolanda Kirkbeck and I founded Oma Rāpeti Early Childhood Centre in Auckland in 2011 with a vision to bring this way of being into an early learning setting. I completed Pennie Brownlee's heart based training with Jana, my inspiring facilitator partner. We began parent-infant classes in 2014, which grew to include toddler classes and a playgroup. After almost seven growing years we were fortunate to be able to pass Oma Rāpeti into the hands of a like-minded parent. This meant I could place complete focus on my work with families and nurturers, and thus with Jana Nurture People was created.
My passion and experiences lie in mentoring and supporting people and teams with my heart-centered, open-minded approach. I bring a sense of calmness and connection to one-on-one time with people while creating space for feelings and trust where shifts can happen. I feel so privileged to have my life’s focus be the well-being of whānau and people.    

Jana To

Co-founder & Co-director

B Ed (Steiner Early Childhood Teaching), CertArts (Psychology)

I was born and bred in former Czechoslovakia where the majority of my childhood was spent outdoors admiring and respecting the beauty of each season, then living in England and finally settling in Aotearoa.  Since 2002 my passion for understanding various approaches to education was nurtured in my professional life.  My experiences include volunteering in a foster home, working in home-based settings, supporting a child with an autistic spectrum disorder, educating infants and toddlers and young children in early childhood settings, and supporting families through facilitating parenting groups and nature playgroups with my Nurture People partner and dearest friend Tineke.  Raising my two children with my husband in a culturally rich family has also sparked and shaped my curiosity in the various ways of being with children.
I am passionate about educating, mentoring and inspiring people in the heart of Pikler and Steiner approaches which benefits people's lives and makes a positive difference to humanity. I inspire change with a kind, reflective, insightful, creative driven way of being and working. The beauty of Rudolf Steiner education, work of Dr. Emmi Pikler, Magda Gerber and Pennie Brownlee is a blessing in my life. Passion for inclusion with a particular interest in neurodiversity is currently growing while I am studying towards Master in Educational and Developmental psychology. 
I feel the calling to continue sharing what I have learned, and nurturing others. 

Danika Dwyer

NZQA Dip Yoga, Dip Yoga Therapy, C-IAYT

My life has always been defined by a sense of reverence for all living beings, and a desire to contribute more kindness to the world.

In 2016 I became mama to my little love Helena. Like many mums, I wanted to do everything right, but much of mainstream parenting conflicted with what my gut and heart were telling me. My explorations between intuition and information led me to the people and teachings that serve as the foundation of Nurture People. The teachings empowered me to become the mindful, confident and heart-centred parent I wanted to be. 

Today, alongside being a full-time mum, I work privately with people who have chronic illness guiding them to better health naturally, as well as working alongside the Nurture People team and as facilitator of our Nature Playgroup with Emma.  I bring to Nurture People a holistic perspective, integrating mind, body and spirit into everything I do and give.

Kate Webber

B Design, Grad Dip Tchg (Primary)

As a mother of three beautiful boys and a registered primary school teacher, I became passionate about Play Based Learning, treating kids respectfully, and spending time outdoors in nature.

I turned this into action in 2016 by joining forces with other powerful wahine and creating Ako, a small, outdoor-focussed alternative primary school that learns through play and encourages self-directed learners. Here I was able to use all my experience in play, outdoor play and the knowledge of the Pikler philosophy, plus grow and learn as a person. My time with Ako finished in a wave of exhaustion and gratitude, and now sees me inspired to help empower both teachers and kids everywhere. 

 I am a Teacher, Learner, Creator, Catalyst, and People Connector.  I feel privileged to be a part of Nurture People, a team that I feel epitomises the culture of kindness.

Priya Gummadi


Parenthood: I never really thought how much it would change us. 

When my first son was born, I had an innate drive to provide him with a childhood unlike mine. I wanted him to play, laugh, love and be nurtured and respected, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. My search for mentorship and like-minded mothers led me to Tineke and Jana, and their infant group empowered and enabled me to blossom into the parent I knew I wanted to be.

So when Tineke and Jana started Nurture People, I knew that there was no place I’d rather be, and that I could bring my skills and experience, especially in IT and administration to the team. My hope for Nurture People is to reach out and provide that crucial support and aroha to parents and their children, and provide that secure environment to nurture themselves.

Rebecca Fletcher

Early learning and care have always been my passion, my hearts calling.

Soon after leaving school, I followed my heart and became a qualified early childhood
teacher. Then, just a couple of years later I became a Centre owner. Over the next 24 years
I put my heart and soul into operating 2 boutique early learning centre’s where children
were truly placed at the heart of everything. Love and kindness were the catalysts to our
care, and we held a space for nurturing trusting relationships with children and their

In 2020 after 24 years of heart, sweat and tears I sold my centre’s to make the most of the
time I had left with 2 very special members of my family.
It was during this time that I connected the Tineke (though our lovely friend Pennie
Brownlee) and I became committed to helping realise the dream of “Nurture People”
I feel so blessed to have connected with this tribe of Heart Centered beings and am excited
to be part of the journey of growing and sharing our love and kindness with others.

Emma Dando

BA (Psych, Ed)

I have always loved being around children. I worked as a nanny after leaving school and later left a corporate job to pursue a degree in psychology and education, during which I mentored school aged children and carried out research on the highlights and challenges of parenting infants. I am now a stay at home mum to my own wonderful, energetic two-year-old.

I discovered RIE® when my daughter was a few months old, and the ideas of being in partnership with our children and trusting them as self-directed learners immediately resonated with me. We love being part of a community which brings together like-minded families and supports us in our respectful parenting journey.

My daughter and I especially enjoy spending time in nature and connecting with friends, and it is with great delight that we facilitate Nurture People's Nature Playgroup with Danika.

Philip Morrison - in advisory role


The name of the trust says it all! It reflects the heartbeat of founding trustees: one which builds people up, families, parents, and children. These are values I resonate with and are why I am here to support Nurture People. I’m a regular family guy who through raising 5 children and 2 step children understands the joys and challenges life brings with raising a blended family.
Professionally I bring accounting, business, financial management and mentoring experience.  I believe respectful relationships are vital in all fields and my passion is to support and empower people to realise their personal and community goals.