I am an experienced primary school teacher (19 years)  and have a deep love of children and working with them. I have also noticed that some children have amazing talents and skills that are not nurtured or recognised in a traditional school program. After teaching in a Play-Based environment for many years I could see the benefits of children of all ages being allowed to learn in their own way without adult direction. My passion for children playing outside and connecting with nature has stemmed from a few wonderful years being a stay at home (and Playcentre) mum living in a rural environment and seeing how much fun learning outside can be.  The Gully Nature School aims to give children aged 5 - 12 years the chance to explore, connect, take risks, and shine in a natural environment.



Hi, my name is Melanie Allcutt. 

I've always been interested in education. Both of my parents had been primary school teachers  and they both put a lot of thought into the education and development of their children.  They allowed us to explore our interests and immerse ourselves in those interests, and to make our own directions. 

I've been a Teaching Assistant at Otonga Primary School for 7 years.  After University I became passionate about self-sufficiency and I co- developed the Hamilton Permaculture Trust and the Sustainable Backyard Garden at the Hamilton Gardens; I've taught English at a University in Taiwan, and worked as a pupil assistant for a year in a special needs school in Birmingham, England. Rotorua has been home for 15 years. 

My husband Steve and I are blessed with one 15 year old daughter, currently at Western Heights. My husband is one of the Scout leaders in Ngongotaha and our daughter is a Venture. We all love the outdoors, camping, hiking, (they do the mountain biking, not me!).  

I was thrilled when I heard Kathy was setting up a bush school and I'm excited to support your children explore their surroundings and their own abilities and interests.  



My name is Nicole Lovegrove and I am absolutely honoured to be joining The Gully School in a teaching role for 2022. I have been a primary school teacher for six years. Within that time, I have taught all primary year groups and have also been a Team Leader. Throughout these experiences, I developed a keen interest in holistic wellbeing, play and project-based learning, fundamental life skills and neurodiversity. This led me to reduce to part-time hours in 2021, enabling me to take on full-time study to work towards a Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology. I have one more year to achieve this degree, which I intend to complete over 2022. 

I was fortunate to grow up in Rotorua, which led me to develop a strong interest in the outdoors. I moved away for study and the start of my career but moved back here in 2018 to be close to family, friends, and the outdoor environments that I connect with. Family and friends are incredibly important to me, so most of my time outside of work is spent with them. I also love to be in the outdoors, whether it be walking, running or biking in the forest or swimming at the lake or beach. 

I am so excited to be able to combine my professional and personal interests by joining The Gully School community. I look forward to supporting, growing and learning alongside you all! Have a wonderful summer break and I will see you all in 2022!



Kia Ora, my name is Manuela Kung Purser and I am very excited to start at the Gully School as a Learning Assistant. I also work as an educational support worker in the early childhood sector. I used to be a coach for relax kids and roots of empathy program, with a background in social pedagogy trained in Switzerland, where I immigrated from almost 15 years ago. Now I live with my husband and my two daughters in Rotorua.
We have a busy backyard with cats, ducks, bunnies, chickens. a per mouse and a big vegetable garden. I love nature, walking, gardening, yoga, reading and I am always interested in trying and making new things.