The Team

Meet the teaching team at Harakeke:

Gundula Montag-Ruebsam


I have been either training or working in Early Childhood Education ever since I finished secondary school, both back in Germany where I trained as Kindergarten teacher and here in NZ where I gained a post-graduate diploma in Teaching People with Special Teaching Needs.

I consider myself very lucky that I knew at a very young age what I wanted to do, where my passion was and still is. Establishing Harakeke is the result of this passion and a dream I held for a long time.


Nicole Fischer

Many years ago I trained and worked in Germany as an educator in the Early Childhood sector (but unfortunately this qualification isn’t recognised with NZQA). My love for nature and my partner Bill brought me to New Zealand in 2002.

When my son Leon started preschool, he chose the free movement and natural space at Harakeke - and so did I.

I always had a passion for children and the desire to work with them and their families, so I was very excited when over time I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the Harakeke Teaching Team.

Truus van der Wel

I emigrated in 1998 with my husband Ruurd from the Caribbean to New Zealand (originally from Holland). We settled in a little rural town called Cheviot where our two daughters Tess and Zeta grew up on a sheep and beef farm.

My passion for being with young children started when I was eighteen years old and worked one year as a au-pair for a family with three girls in Paris. Once my own children started preschool, I was asked to join the team as a relieving teacher which evolved in retraining myself as a Early Childhood Educator and obtaining in 2010 a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood). I have worked for several years as a educator in a small rural preschool in Cheviot and have been part of the board of trustees. I also volunteered in different roles for Cheviot Plunket.

We moved in 2013 with the family to Nelson where I worked for three years as a educator at Rutherford Street Kindergarten. I was privileged to work with children and their families from many different ethnicities.
Spending time in nature and learning about the natural environment has been a great interest throughout my life. I fully believe in Harakeke’s philosophy which emphasizes the important role nature plays in children’s holistic development. I enjoy practicing yoga, creating wholesome food and being in the outdoors with my family and our dog Max.

Kathleen Nicholls
A born local I was raised in the beautiful environment Nelson and the surrounding area has to offer. After finishing school I begun studying a bachelor of teaching (early childhood education) part time which I completed at the end of 2015. I have recently worked at Blossom House Nursery nurturing infants and toddlers in their nature based environment.

As I begin my new journey at Harakeke I am looking forward to furthering my passion for education through nature based play. I am passionate about holistic education, building strong relationships with family/whānau and the incorporation of learning through nature.
I am a mum to a little girl Sophia who recently begun her first year at school. At home we love to explore outdoors, grow things in our garden and create nourishing treats in the kitchen.