The "best kindy teacher ever" has officially retired from Mission Place Kindergarten in Kaitaia.

Nanook Kinnear taught at the same kindergarten for 23 years, building up a good relationship with all the families involved with the centre.

At her farewell on Friday, parents paid tribute through video messages, calling her the "best kindy teacher ever".

Kinnear was introduced to early childhood education through Playcentre's training for parents, when her two children were young. She found the courses interesting, so went as far as she could before moving onto a Diploma in Teaching.

Nanook Kinnear is called
Nanook Kinnear is called "the best kindy teacher" by many Kaitaia parents.

The best thing about early childhood education was its flexibility, Kinnear said.

"You're teaching to children's interests and strengths, and feeding those interests," she said.

"It's getting to know children and what they're interested in, and helping them develop from there."

Sharing music, art and science with children was a particular focus of Kinnear.

She stayed at Mission Place Kindergarten because of the good relationships she built with families, sometimes teaching the children of former pupils.

Kinnear helped ensure Mission Place Kindergarten was environmentally sustainable. She also encouraged the kindergarten to engage with Switzer Residential Care through regular visits.

The home's residents enjoyed the children's visits and hoped they would continue, said one resident, Phyllis Tailby.

"We do enjoy having the children - singing and playing games. It reminds us of our own grandchildren that we don't see as often," she said.


Kinnear was also noted for her fun sense of humour and love of animals, including finding strategies for improving cats' IQ and trying to domesticate wild chickens.

In retirement, she planned to spend more time playing instruments - including learning the banjo - playing cards and doing up her house.