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Waiheke Montessori Centre
The Montessori Method was first brought to Waiheke in 1996 by Lee A Elliott. He established Waiheke Montessori Centre, to provide an education based on Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy, for his own children, and the local community.
The Early Childhood section operated as a licensed Playgroup, and the Elementary class, as a legal Homeschooling Group - accountable to the Ministry of Education for curriculum approval. The grassroots, home-based feel, proved popular with a number of island personalities who wanted a less institutionalized education model for their children. Complimenting the long established Wardolf - Steiner programme at Fossil Bay Farm, the Centre gave parents a second, alternative schooling option based on an humanist, holistic philosophy.
During its existence, a number of additional programmes were promoted by the Centre, including: The After School Club (bussing students from Te Huruhi for after school care), The Adventure Project (providing an educational summer programme), and the Children's Film Academy (entering in the 48-hour Film Festival).
Existing in a number of locations (once occupying Hekerua Lodge) the organization needed to continually cater to the needs, and size, of a fluctuating student body. With limited funding, and relying heavily on parental contributions, the Centre had to continually evolve and adapt.
The eventual opening of a promising, second primary school on the island led to a drop in enrollments. That coupled with poor funding, meant that the Centre was no longer sustainable. The school finally closed its doors at the end of 2006.