Heather Te Huia is an experienced early childhood centre manager, former political lobbyist, and in 1995 was nominated for and accepted a Queens Service Medal by the Ministry of Education for her services to early childhood education.
What was your early life like?
I come from a large family and life was not very good as a child. However, I have good memories of running away daily to a local kindergarten in Gisborne where I lived after I was born, and my mum being phoned and told to come and get me as I was too young for kindergarten. This went on until finally they let me stay.
Both my mum and my older sister were in early childhood education in Tauranga where we moved to when I was a young child and I spent time at both of their early childhood education services.
I had an abusive childhood and I grew up determined I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. As a child during playtime I always took on the role of a teacher or mother who made her home or school a fun place and a safe place.
Describe your career path and jobs held
While in my early teens, I worked at local dairies or supermarkets in Mt Maunganui and Gisborne, then went into several retail outlets to work full- time until I was 16 years old. I soon moved to Wellington and worked as a bank teller at the Post Office until the age of 20. As a young adult I was employed at our local ‘preschool’ in Porirua as a ‘mother helper’. Also, by working at the preschool I was exempted from paying fees. Some of my friends at the preschool persuaded me to enrol for the NZCA training programme for a certificate in early childhood education.
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