The Conscious Kids Team
Maria Mariotti
CK Co-Founder and Director


Maria is an Italian mum that has been traveling around the world with her family (her 3 kids were born on 3 different continents!) to study and learn from indigenous cultures, different philosophies, and natural therapies.

She’s a highly experienced yoga and mindfulness teacher having taught in many studios as well as facilitating retreats, workshops, and conferences all over the world. Her passion is to share the life, joy, and creativity that arise freely in everyone when there are balance and harmony with nature and within ourselves!

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Rita Pontes
CK Co-Founder and Director


Rita is a Brazilian mum of two girls and a qualified Graphic and Interior Designer. After visiting different countries with her family, they have found New Zealand the best place to live a conscious life, connecting future and past, nature and development, love and respect.

As a designer Rita is passionate about making the world a better place to everyone, full of colours and happiness. She believes that every new day is a miracle and small changes make big transformations.


Harriet Brown
Conscious Kids Co-Founder


Harriet was a mum to 2 girls, a qualified teacher, holding a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. During term time she could be found exploring Long Bay Regional Park with a group of intrepid pre-schoolers who attended a Nature Kindergarten that she used run. Harriet had a passion for getting children outside, whatever the weather, to do what they are designed to do best… play. Harriet was constantly amazed by the huge developments she could experience with her Nature kindergarten children and with Maria and Rita founded CONSCIOUS KIDS to share these benefits with school-age children.

In Memoriam

Lana Chisholm
CK Development Manager

Lana is a free-play enthusiast and environmental advocate with an eye for adventure and over a decade of experience of leading outdoor expeditions. From the icy slopes of New Hampshire's ski fields to the rocky escarpments of Table Mountain, she specialises in youth empowerment through exploration and couldn't be more pleased to be a part of the CK Team. An active outdoors-woman and botanical hobbyist with a postgraduate degree in health promotion and a background in wilderness first aid, she is super keen to share her passion for nature, mud and all living things, great and small with the next generation.  

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, Drink the wild air's salubrity" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Liss Osorio

CK Operations Manager

Liss is passionate about the amazing vibe of interacting with kids. Originally from Venezuela, she has always been enthusiastic about hiking and nature; traveling through Venezuela and other countries have given her the opportunity to enrich her love of nature and adventure. This drew her to New Zealand and experiencing its magic has been a lovely experience so far for her. Being a Dietitian and a Yoga teacher, the quality of caring for others has always been paramount in her professional and personal setting.


Since she started working with the Conscious Kids Programme, she discovered her passion and talent with clay and arts, showing we can all learn through play – whatever your age is!

Conscious Kids Educators
Dana Harvey


Dana has an array of experience working with children. Over the past 15 years, she has worked in outdoor education instruction, before/after school and holiday program care, surf school and paddleboard kids programs, along with coaching and running sporting programs. She absolutely loves the freedom kids can have in these environments and the ability to just simply play and enjoy whatever each day brings.


Dana is personally motivated by the principle less is more and finds enjoyment in the simplicity life has to offer. She loves most things in life but in particular anything adventurous surrounded by nature. Hiking Trails, Waterfalls, Beaches, Kayaking, Climbing, Paddling, Camping, Surfing.  One amazing continuous adventure. She is currently working on a concept that is dedicated to community gatherings, walking trails, connection with nature, creating environmental awareness, and all events created are dedicated to restoring and rejuvenating the land in which we live.

Ada Rooney


Ada is originally from Hong Kong and has been living in NZ since she was 11. She is a mother of 2 gorgeous children, a qualified ECE and Primary teacher, plus loves spending time at the beach and bushwalk. Ada has a strong belief in play-based learning and Nature as 3rd teacher.

Paul Whitfield


Paul has always been into the outdoors and gets a buzz out of sharing his passion with kids.

During three years at Playcentre with his daughter he established a weekly outdoor session taking pre-schoolers (some as young as 6 weeks old) into the wild. Well, the wildest places they could find in Auckland's central suburbs.


He continues to be an Educator for Playcentre outdoor sessions, helps run Nature Kindergarten sessions and loves letting children free-play the way they used to; in the bush, at the beach or just somewhere carefree getting mucky.

Amy Dent


Amy is from the U.K and arrived early this year. She was looking forward to opportunities New Zealand had to offer including adventure and nature. Let's just say this beautiful country is living up to all her expectations!

Trained as a Primary school teacher and holds a degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology, Amy wanted to take her passion for educating to the outdoors! She believes there are a wealth of benefits to learning outside, having fun, and getting muddy - our skin is waterproof after all!

In her own time, Amy enjoys keeping active, hiking, cycling, and swimming. She also keeps the rewards of volunteering with conservation charities and organizations, passionate about making a positive difference in our world, no matter how big or small.

Ines Gereda


Ines is passionate about the way children learn. With a background in ECE, psychology and yoga teaching she came to New Zealand in 2011 and became the mum of 3 Playcentre kids.


Ines believes freedom to move and choose and lots of time to play and explore give children the perfect grounds for positive learning experiences. She is excited about having outdoor adventures with kids to connect with nature and find ways to look after our planet together.


When she is not working at Conscious Kids she is teaching yoga, at Playcentre, running around with her kids, working in community events or facilitating play sessions for children in the Devonport community.

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Tref Turner

Kia ora! My name is Tref Turner I am the proud father of my eight-year-old son Tobias. As a young lad, I climbed with my father in the mountains of Scotland and Wales giving me the foundation for many outdoor pursuits. My first degree sprung me into the world of entertainment for twenty years of traveling extensively.

With the arrival of my son, I retrained, completing a three-year educational degree focusing on the benefits of the outdoor environment for the youngest members of society. I have lived in the hills of the Waitakere ranges for the past ten years and am proud to call Aotearoa my home. I love a good chat and am very much looking forward to meeting you all.

Logan Armstrong

Kia ora, Ko Logan taku ingoa.

I have completed a Bachelors Degree in Sport and Recreation majoring in Outdoor Education at  Auckland University of Technology. and I am currently working as a contractor, working for various company’s in Auckland such as Auckland Sea Kayaks, Bigfoot Adventures, and Adventure Works Limited, and have done some work for Auckland University Of Technology for the outdoor education program. Further, I have been contracting to Higher Ground Group an outdoor education provider in Australia. I have also worked as a park ranger for Auckland Council in a number of different parks.

Gabi Pontes

Kia Ora!! My name is Gabi and I’m currently a student at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design, studying Graphic Design. 


I have been living and breathing Conscious Kids from the age of 13 and don’t plan on changing that any time soon!  As I was slightly too old for the programme I quickly became a teen helper, then went on to become an assistant, and today a supervisor for the Holiday Programmes.

As someone who spent the majority of their childhood in the concrete jungles of Brazil, I am so appreciative of the hard work CK has put in to be able to facilitate this growing connection between our tamariki and nature. 

The concept of free, child-led, and nature-based play that CK endeavours to spread is so powerful and contagious that it is merely impossible for it not to touch the children who experience it. I feel very lucky and grateful to be part of this awesome CK family. 

"I grew up by the sea in China, and was always transfixed by the details craftsmen put into the creations from the sea, but at school, I was always reprimanded for not following examples. I moved to New Zealand when I was eight and was given an immense amount of free time and free spaces to roam, I could finally scavenge to make my own tools. With the vast amount of natural spaces I had access to, I made creations that drew other children's curiosity. I realised I found my own way with people, and it made me appreciate the resources our Earth can give.

As a student nurse who's very interested in child development, I have greatly enjoyed seeing the individualistic traits brought out of kids with free-play. It's been very rewarding watching children who were shy transform into negotiators or the comedic genius of their group. I hope to continue bringing my personal and academic knowledge to encourage every child to understand themselves. As there are no gradings or expectations enforced onto nature, I strongly believe children need to experience these settings to show them there are other ways of life."
Rachel Ernest

NZ-born Rachel is the proud mother of four children ranging from 5 to 15. She started her working career as a journalist, then ran her own translation agency for 14 years.


After returning from the UK in 2018, Rachel retrained as a primary school teacher and is currently completing her Masters in Education. A lifelong love of the beach and bush has lead to an interest in sustainability. She would like to share this love of the natural environment with tamariki.