The DEN offers discovery education for children aged 2-6 years in a home-like, purpose built environment set on two acres of natural, outdoor playspace.

The DEN - Discover Education in Nature

Cato Road, Park Island, Napier
Phone 06 281 2588
Hours 8.00am - 4.30pm






A unique innovative approach to early learning


Continuity of child teacher relationship to ensure a strong sense of belonging to support healthy emotional regulation, a sense of ownership and security.


An inclusive environment that acknowledges and respects diversity to develop and grow the next generation of resilient global citizens.


A curriculum designed to foster passionately curious children with two acres of natural playspace that provides rich and meaningful learning experiences.


School Programme -our unique innovative approach to early school aged learning (numeracy and literacy) based on a curriculum to support natural body and brain development for children aged from 5 years.


Ensure communication and collaboration between the child, the parent/ whanau, the environment and the teacher, including a digital parent information forum.


Committed to growing knowledge and connections to the preservation  of our land and awakening an awareness of the value of nature to ensure our unique outdoor environment for this generation and the next.


The DEN staff and teaching team and are responsive to community cultural and linguistic identities and practice culturally responsive teaching and learning.


Our vision is to design a place where quality early years education is delivered in a natural setting with a sensory and movement focus. We were lucky to have this experience as a child but have struggled to find something similar for parents today.


Wendy Pirie

Wendy Pirie MHSc - Director

Wendy has been working with children, their families, teachers and clinicians since 2003, unpacking the role that movement plays in child development. Her educational background in exercise science, population health and child development has given her a broad base from which to approach many child development related topics. She co-authored movement curriculum Move, Play and Learn with Smart Steps in 2016, whilst raising three sons with husband Colin.

Her past work as Australia and New Zealand Director of TimberNook, and current work as co-director of Moving Smart New Zealand, early years project lead and Trustee for the Hawkes Bay Institute of Sport and founder of The DEN, a unique and innovative early learning centre for children 2 - 6 years keeps her busy. Wendy has a special interest in connecting hauora and education for the best outcomes for children.

Sindy Cormack

Sindy Cormack - Director

Having predominately held leadership roles in the banking industry being blessed with two energetic boys (aged 3 and 5 years) has brought a new focus into my life. They have taught me that they need room to move and explore, to develop their senses to become strong and courageous. I’m thrilled to see this become a reality in The DEN. Being able to offer our children a unique and innovative place to come, play and learn – I couldn’t be more proud!

Louise Wiliams

Louise Williams - Head Teacher

Happiest and at home in the outdoors, in my gumboots, surrounded by birdsong and the laughter of happy children, I am overjoyed to be joining The DEN whanau.

Married to Shane and mother to Oscar, I also have over twenty years experience as an early childhood teacher, and am particularly passionate about children’s holistic development through connecting with nature.

I look forward to meeting your family and exploring at The DEN with your child.


"When we were looking for a kindy for our youngest child to attend, we wanted to find a centre that provided high quality education through free play and holistic development. The outdoors is
particularly important to our whanau and we wanted him to be in a rural-style setting, with plenty of natural material and space, but still within the city.

The DEN ticked every box and more! The open-ended play equipment, large open spaces, and unstructured schedule allows for high level free play and authentic learning for the tamariki.

We have felt so welcomed by all the staff at the DEN who have taken the time to get to know our whanau and to ensure our son has a strong sense of belonging to the centre. The low teacher-child ratio means the tamariki are well supervised and their learning is well responded to and extended. 

The learning stories written about him show the Kaiako really see him as an individual and are engaged with his learning and development. The communication with whanau from the centre staff is excellent. We are so happy we found the DEN!"


We'd love to hear from you if you want to book your child's place or find out more.

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Thank you for your interest, we will be in touch.


Cato Road, Park Island, Napier


Centre 06 281 2588
Wendy 027 329 6776
Sindy 027 365 7689