Australian teacher and Armidale woman Gabrielle Maina killed in robbery in Nairobi

Gabrielle Maina: Photo: Twitter/@HillcrestKE

Gabrielle Maina: Photo: Twitter/@HillcrestKE


Friends of Australian teacher Gabrielle Maina, who was killed in a daylight street robbery in Nairobi, say she was “very intelligent, musically talented and always smiling”.

The former Armidale High School and University of New England (UNE) student was gunned down about 10am on Thursday, local time, while walking on Miotoni Road in the upmarket suburb of Karen.

UNE lecturer and friend, Anna Cavallaro told Fairfax Media the death of Ms Maina is a “tragic loss to humanity”.

“I’m not exaggerating because she was one of those people that you can’t forget,” she said.

“I just can’t believe it, I still can’t believe it … she was almost like a daughter (to me).”

Ms Cavallaro taught Ms Maina Italian for three years during her undergraduate degree.

“It’s very rare you get close to students,” she said.

“I think more than anything her perseverance, her determination and her positive attitude stood out.

She liked people and having people around her, she really was a lovely person.

Anna Cavallaro

“She liked people and having people around her, she really was a lovely person.”

Ms Cavallaro said Ms Maina was “a very good student” who met her husband while studying at UNE.

“She was living at college, I remember, at Wright Village,” she said.

“Her maiden name was Phillips and then she got married, her husband was Kenyan.

“I think he was studying here and she met him through her church group.

“She was always very religious.”

Secretary of NSW Department of Education, Mark Scott took to Twitter to express his condolences.

“Widely known, loved and respected in NSW education. A tragedy,”  he wrote.

Ms Maina graduated from UNE with a Bachelor of Arts in 2004 and a Graduate Diploma in Education in 2006.

A UNE spokesperson said the university is deeply saddened to hear of the death of Ms Maina.

“Our thoughts are with Ms Maina’s family and friends at this terrible time, we offer our condolences and support,” the spokesperson said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the death of the teacher was a “tragic event”.

“And our prayers and love and condolences go out to her family and loved ones,” Mr Turnbull told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

Ms Maina taught in a number of NSW public schools and spent almost five years as an English and Drama teacher at Sarah Redfern High School in Sydney.

School friends say she “was very intelligent, musically talented and always smiling”. 

Gabrielle Maina. Photo: Facebook.

Gabrielle Maina. Photo: Facebook.

The 40-year-old was shot and killed in a daylight street robbery while walking home in the Kenyan capital at about 10am on Thursday, local time.

Fairfax Media understands Ms Maina graduated from Armidale High School in 1995 before commencing studies at the University of New England.


Fairfax Media can confirm Australian teacher Gabrielle Maina, who has been shot dead in Nairobi, was a graduate from the University of New England in Armidale.

The 40-year-old was shot and killed in a daylight street robbery while walking home in the Kenyan capital at about 10am on Thursday, local time.

Ms Maina studied a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma of Education which she completed in 2006. 

Insight Secure, a security company that monitors local incidents, reported that a “caucasian woman” was killed by “unidentified assailants” and that “a 9mm cartridge was recovered at the crime scene”.

Fairfax Media understands Ms Maina’s purse was snatched by the rider or riders of a “boda boda” motorcycle.

Ms Maina was working as the headteacher at Nairobi's Hillcrest Preparatory School, according to the school's website.

A statement from Hillcrest said: "It is with great sadness and shock that we are writing to let you know that Gabrielle Maina, Head Teacher of Hillcrest Prep has been tragically killed whilst out walking this morning.

"She was returning home after dropping her son at a friend's house.

"Condolences to Gabrielle's family."

The teacher's biography on the school's website says Maina "relocated to Kenya in September 2015, a long term goal to establish her family here so her children can grow up with their extended family."

"After completing her postgraduate degree in Education, she was engaged by the New South Wales Department of Education, where she taught at a number of schools in the Sydney metropolitan area."

A Facebook page believed to belong to Maina says she is from Armidale, New South Wales.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said the department was providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian woman who died in Kenya.

"Due to our privacy obligations, we will not release further details," the spokesperson said.