Staff Profiles


Gina Smith - Principal

Initially I didn’t want to be a teacher but my sister-in-law thought it would be a great idea and took me to an intake evening. Lucky she did because I love what I do!  The reason I changed my mind was I wanted school to be a great experience for all tamariki.

I was terrified on my first day but there was no need to be. Those first students were the reason I am still a teacher. They took everything we gave them & looked after us all. They taught me how to be a teacher.

What I like most about teaching is that every day is different and you never stop learning. It is rewarding seeing students happy and being able to help them when learning is hard or they are having a tough time.



Tara Johnson - Office Administrator 

I was born here in our local maternity home and grew up playing on our street with neighboring children, yelling out "cars" when we had to get off the road for cars coming.  

I loved my years here at Featherston School.  We had "windy fort" and the bell was rung by a student with a metal rod and we wore mufti all the time.

I have two teen boys and a very supportive husband.  

I am a volunteer firefighter with our Featherston Fire Brigade - Thanks to Gina, I am able to go to calls  during school hours so sometimes I wont be in the office to help you.

Room 1  -  New Entrants

Philippa Hilliard -  Classroom Teacher

Debbie - Teacher Aide

I have lived in Featherston for about 28 years, I have worked or volunteered at Featherston School for the past 20. I am currently the cleaner and the teacher aide in Room 1. I love coming to school each day, it does not feel like work at all. Every day is a pleasure, the children bring such joy to my days. Being greeted by all those happy faces, smothered in hugs is the best way to begin the day. Who could ask for more?

Room 2 - Year 2 & 3 

Miss Waterson - Classroom Teacher

Darren - Teacher Aide

I have lived in Featherston for over 10 years, and am very proud to call it my home.

My first experience of working at a school started in 2020 (shortly before the first lockdown) where I was employed as a Teacher’s Aide by St Teresa's, followed by starting here at Featherston School at the start of 2022. It has been an interesting couple of years, and I've loved it all! Especially the resilience and creativity of the students and staff over this time. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the future will bring!

Room 3 - Year 3 & 4 

Natilee Orbell - Classroom Teacher & Junior Team Leader

I became a teacher because I wanted to inspire young people. I believe in building strong relationships and learning about the wellbeing of each student, while celebrating diversity and creating a multicultural setting in the classroom. 

I highly value home-school partnerships and believe in shared communication and that collaboration is important to support tamariki and their learning needs. I encourage high expectations and believe the students need to be challenged and have achievable and realistic goals established.  I always treat my students fairly and with respect.

My classroom will be a positive, fun, friendly and safe environment for learning and students need to feel comfortable taking risks.

Adele - teacher Aide

I moved to Featherston nearly three years ago and have not looked back.  When I got here I didnt know anyone but it didn't take long at all before my daughter and I felt a part of the community. Thanks to all the wonderful friendly people here in this small town.

I knew I wanted to work as a teacher's aide at Te Kura o Paetūmokai as soon as I got here. Especially once I saw the relationship between my daughters Early learning Centre and the school.

I am very honored to work alongside these tamariki. Everyday I get to witness their enthusiasm and creativity towards their learning.

Here's a handful of extra big exciting words that relate to me…Motivated, Enthusiastic, Open minded, Passionate, Adaptable, patient and understanding, and of course FUN !!!!

Room 4  -  Year 7 & 8

Whaea Michelle - Deputy Principal 

Kia Ora Everybody!

My name is Michelle, and I am rapt to introduce myself as a teacher at this wonderful school.  I work with the Year 7 and 8 students in Room 4.  I live in Featherston and think it’s the coolest place ever.

Teaching has always been my passion. I believe that education is the key to unlocking the potential within each and every one of us, and I am committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students so they feel confident enough to try new things.

I strive to create a classroom where all student’s feel valued and empowered. 

I am genuinely excited to be part of the Paetūmokai whanau.  I love whanau evenings and seeing you all there!! 

Jo - Teacher Aide


 I’m Jo Johnson, I have lived in Featherston for about 28yrs.  I have two girls aged 22 and 20, who were both taught at Featherston School. I have been a teacher aide at Featherston School since 2004, I have worked in all classes throughout the school in that time. I am also the library administrator in the school.  I love supporting and helping to teach the kids in this town. I am the Featherston Swimming Club President and have been on the committee for 14yrs.    

Room 5  -  Year 6 & 7

Sue Button - Classroom Teacher & Senior Team Leader

I became a teacher because I want to help children realise their true potential. I really enjoy challenging children to become lifelong learners in everything they do. I have had some amazing teachers myself who made learning fun and engaging and made sure school was a wonderful experience for me and I hope to replicate this in my classroom. I have been involved with children sports for most of my adult life through coaching and before teaching I worked in the banking and superannuation industry. 

Te Ata Rogers - Teacher Aide & kapa haka kaiako

Ko Hikurangi te maunga

Ko Waiapu te awa

Ko Ngati Puaai te hapu

Ko Ngati Porou te iwi

Ko Horouta te waka

Ko Pokai/Pohatu taku marae

No Ruatorea ahau

Kia Ora

Ko Te Ata Rogers taku ingoa

Room 6  -  Year 5 

Michael Holmes - Classroom Teacher 

Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei

Aim for the stars and even if you don't reach them you will have achieved much more in your life than if you hadn't.


I am passionate about helping children become the best they can be in their learning and creating effective learning environments. For most of my adult life, I have been involved in education, from teaching English as a second language in Japan and Wellington, to teaching graphic design at tertiary level. I am a life-long learner and constantly challenge myself to learn new things and develop myself both professionally and in my personal life.

Room 6 class links (some of the websites we use).

Leah - Teacher Aide 

Extension Teacher Aide

Natalie - Teacher Aide

I became a teacher aide soon after moving back into the area from Lower Hutt. On my first day I remember feeling very much out of depth! It was a huge change from anything else I had ever done. I love seeing children make progress in their learning and feel very fortunate to be part of the process. It is an absolute joy to work with children and get to know them individually. It is such a warm and welcoming environment and I love coming to work each day.

Classroom Release Teacher

Dallas Powell - Classroom Release Teacher

I have wanted to be a teacher since the age of 5. When I was 12 years old I was home sick for 3 weeks so I drew individual students and placed them around my room and taught them. My first year of teaching was at Tairangi in Porirua. I had a lovely class of standard one students. 

I like that each child is an individual. A 5 year old has as much character as a 13 year old. They soak up knowledge like a sponge. I have previously worked for IHC and IRD in between teaching jobs. I once asked a student if I had 6 bananas and I ate 2, what fraction would I have left? His answer was “The skins”!

Extension Teacher

Abby Waterson - Reading Recovery Teacher

I have an eclectic teaching background which came hand in hand with my other passion – travelling. I taught early childhood in Australia and Canada, English in China and Japan and I was a teacher aide in England. In New Zealand, my favourite of all places, I have taught from early childhood through to intermediate. I now am lucky enough to be a part of the Featherston school community, both as a parent and a staff member.  

I am always eager to learn new ways we can connect with nature while treading as lightly as possible on Papatūānuku. Reciprocal relationships with each other and with the environment are at the heart of the way I teach, live and learn.

One of my favourite things about teaching is being a part of the learning journey with tamariki and seeing their reactions to their own successes in learning.

Technology Teachers

Ange Compton - 

I became a teacher as I feel that education is important. One of my first memories of being a teacher was riding to school on my motorbike and arriving cold and wet. As a teacher I try to find the best ways to help each student learn. 

I have previously been a bus driver, worked in a gallery, been a researcher and been involved in natural healing. The funniest thing I remember as a teacher was not noticing that some students had glued equipment to the ceiling.

 - Textiles and Edible Education