We believe tamariki should be Free Range!

Since instigating a Forest Programme excursioning from our previous centre some years ago, we have wanted to create a dedicated Forest centre, where children can not just visit, but have their home in a beautiful native forest.  We spent more than a year searching high and low for the perfect place, and we have finally found our slice of heaven.   It has the ideal amount of challenge, a gorgeous area for our building, a clearing for lots of sunshine, and a gorgeous body of water - the The Waitakaruru Stream.  The stream is a major tributary of the Piako River, and has loads of local eels we can make friends with.

The stream has a wonderful history as a baptismal site for the local Māori people long ago, and we enjoy an ongoing investigation of both its importance to our Forest ecosystems, and as we work with the tamariki to learn ngā Pūrākau me ngā pakiwaitara of our rohe - the stories of our local area.

We know that as we work alongside and learn with tamariki, everything that happens to them in our care will influence them - not just their cognitive development, but the way they think about themselves, their identity and the way they see themselves as learners.   We have a deep respect for the environment as the third teacher, and have our fully qualified teachers as a support system to the environment itself, following the tamariki interests as they lead their learning. 

We aim to empower lifelong learners that have a strong connection to the land, a commitment to sustainability and an empathy for all life forms.  Learners that will go forward on their journey knowing who they are and how to articulate their needs, confident that they make a difference in the world and that they matter.

forest based daycare cambridge
childcare cambridge

Meet the team

Megan - Registered Teacher (Btchg ECE) | Childcare Cambridge

Kayla - Registered Teacher (Btchg ECE) - Forest Leader

 Kia ora my name is Kayla. I grew up on a farm, I have always been surrounded by animals, nature children, being the eldest of six children in my whaanau. I was the child with the goofy fashion, bare feet, covered in mud and I always had my head in the clouds.  My whaanau is a beautiful blended whaanau that has empowered me to follow my dream of being an early childhood kaiako. I am currently living in Morrinsville with my fiance and furry babies Allie (Golden retriever) and puss and boots (e rua ngeru/2 cats).  I spend my spare time traveling to new places, camping and raiding my parents' kitchen for food.

Tamariki have the gift of seeing the magic in every detail of the world and the way their minds work is beautiful. I was born to be a kaiako and I believe in encouraging children to express their ideas, to use their imagination and to follow their curiosity.  I am excited to be working at The Forest, reconnecting our tamarki with the magic of nature.

Sophie - Registered Teacher - (Btchg ECE) | Daycare Cambridge

Arnika - Registered Teacher - (Btchg ECE) - Forest Leader

Arnika grew up in the bush with her family, so this is a 'coming home' for her.   Diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, Arnika initially didn't think she could ever qualify as a teacher with her different learning needs, so is a true testament to the benefits of perseverance and resilience.  As she has worked extra hard for her degree she has become one of our most skilled teachers.   These are the very dispositions that we strive to instil in our children, and no one understands the importance and the benefits of these more than Arnika.

Arnika is another heart-centred teacher, who has been with us for many years. She is a fierce advocate for both children and education, and is the perfect complement to our team to lead adventures into the forest with your precious children. 

Arnika loves camping in the outdoors, and spending time with her daughter, friends and family.  She looks forward to meeting and working with all our prospective families.

Vicky  - Office Manager | daycare Cambridge

Jo - Registered Teacher - Btchg (ECE), BMid - Owner/Director

Jo has been working in ECE for twelve years, since she and her husband opened their previous centre here in Cambridge.   Children have always been her career choice, her and Craig have eight beautiful children, and prior to being a teacher, Jo was an independent midwife.  Working with families and children is a true calling for her.

Owning a large centre previously inspired the dream - the very small - fully qualified teachers - outdoors in nature every day - working with animals - dream.  As she learned what was 'best' for children through continual development and research, she and Craig began to plan.  The plan has been years in the making, and The Forest opening is the fulfillment of that dream.    

Jo and Craig and the passionate team of handpicked, experienced and passionate teachers are honoured to have your children come to The Forest, and incredibly proud of the environment and quality early education they are able to offer your whānau.  Welcome to the Forest!

Megan - Registered Teacher (Btchg ECE) | Childcare Cambridge

Emily - Registered Teacher (Btchg Pri) - Grad Dip (ECE) - Forest Leader

Kia Ora whaanau, my name is Emily and I feel absolutely privileged to be a part of The Forest team.

I am a country girl at heart, having lived my formative years out on a huge farm as my playground. I love to be out there in nature, experiencing all the elements and the beauty in which papatuuaanuku offers us.

Through nature and imagination, a childhood education is rich and fulfilling! We are so fortunate in a unique place such as NZ to have the ability to have such a gorgeous environment as our classroom. I teach with my heart, knowing reciprocal relationships are key to getting the most out of each and every tamaiti. Whaanau play a pivotal role in this, so ensuring all involved parties are respected and valued is very important to me. I am a busy mum of 2 beautiful tamariki, Madi and Kody, and am married to an amazing man Dwayne. I am Cambridge girl born and bred, and in my spare time you will find me at speedway track where my daughter races ministocks. I look forward to being a part of your tamaiti learning journey.


Sophie - Registered Teacher - (Btchg ECE) | Daycare Cambridge

Katie - Registered Teacher - (Dip ECE) - Forest Leader

Kia Ora, My name is Katie and I have the pleasure of being an educator for The Forest ECE.

I have always loved caring for others, animals and nature, and I feel privileged to be able to work in a centre where these are at the heart of what we do. I believe in strong reciprocal relationships where our children are provided an extended family within my care. This is important to me as I want all children to be happy and comfortable to be themselves. I have been an Early Childhood Teacher for 13 years and find it a privilege to be a part of children’s learning journey, seeing them grow and discover the world around them.

My husband and I live in Te Miro with our two wonderful sons.  My husband is a farmer, and I find myself drawn into farm duties constantly, and during calving I can be found before and after working with your tamariki feeding hoards of gorgeous calves!   In my spare time I enjoy being with family and friends making lifelong memories. 

Vicky  - Office Manager | daycare Cambridge

Vicky - Office Manager - She Who Knows Everything

It takes a whole lot of strength, humour and intelligence to drive this project, and Vicky has all of this in abundance. 

Vicky is a Cambridge girl, born and bred, and lives in town with her beautiful family - hubby and three daughters, their German Shepherd pup and their spoiled Ragdoll cat. 

Vicky is a keen netballer with her daughters both cheerleader and coach, and her youngest attends our Forest School Kura programme. 

Vicky is the essential cog in this high functioning machine, and guaranteed, if you have a problem, she can solve it!

Megan - Registered Teacher (Btchg ECE) | Childcare Cambridge

Abby - Btchg ECE - Registered Teacher - Forest Leader

Kia ora, my name is Abby and I am a lucky māmā to 3 boys who keep me active and busy on our little rural property. When not Forest exploring or caring for our animals you will find us looking after our mini orchard which we produce food for ourselves with as well as for the local farmers market in Cambridge! I believe that nourishing our bodies through the food we eat is very important and love passing the knowledge, skills and values of this onto our tamariki through our paddock to plate philosophy and all that encompasses. Speaking of my loves, I have a huge passion for children experiencing the beauty of the natural world and all the joy, curiosity, questioning and wonder it brings. I am big advocate for finding and fostering children’s strengths, hidden talents and what makes them unique to support them to thrive through their learning journey with us and feel empowered to go on to be confident and proud of who they are and want to be in this world. 

Sophie - Registered Teacher - (Btchg ECE) | Daycare Cambridge

Natalie - Btchg ECE - Registered Teacher - Forest Leader

Kia ora I’m Nat and I am so excited to be a part of the Forest whānau. 

I grew up locally in on a farm in Roto-o-rangi before heading off overseas to live for a few years. Upon return I was a little lost and began nannying for two school aged children before and after school. A wonderful friend of mine who you all know as one of your loved Kaiako (Abby) was on the hunt for relievers where she worked in Hamilton and suggested I come and try it out during school hours. From there on in I found I was no longer lost, I had discovered my calling. 

I’ve taken a couple of years break from ECE to have and bring up my two young boys born 14 months apart - Both of whom spend most of their time outside playing in the mud! 
I’ve always been that ‘crazy’ teacher outside playing in the rain as I can’t stand being stuck inside, so I absolutely belong here.  I firmly believe that the most valuable learning can be done outside and I am thrilled to be a part of this awesome learning environment! 

Vicky  - Office Manager | daycare Cambridge

Hunter - Teacher in Training - Forest Leader

Kia Ora, My name is Hunter and I am lucky enough to be a kaiako at The Forest ECE. I have been working part-time at preschools for quite a few years now and tamati have always been my passion. I’m currently studying my Bachelor of Applied Business, with a view to running my own centre one day. I am right in the middle of 7 children in my family and love being a part of a big, busy family. My parents have always encouraged getting outside to explore nature and getting muddy and because of this, my brothers and I spent our childhood making mudpies and creating roads in the dirt for our diggers and trucks on our rural property. I learnt how to horse ride on our beloved mini pony, Spice and I now run The Forest riding program, alongside Spice. I work at the centre every Friday and any other days that I can squeeze in throughout my semester breaks. One of my favourite things to do is have deep conversations with our tamariki, learn how their brains tick and what makes them happy. Watching and joining in on our tamati  imaginative games out in the bush will never get old. I love that tamariki have this amazing, unique view of the world and my days spent at The Forest are and will forever be my favourite days.

A Forest Education is what Every child deserves.

Contact us now to enquire about a space.