Our Facilitators

Auckland

Photo of Biku

Kia Ora, I’ve been a performer for most of my life (musician, dancer, model, Actor). I love talking about healthy relationships and consent, it has been a big part of my life and I can’t wait to share and learn from everyone. I grew up in a small town in Australia, while visiting my father and family in the Solomon Islands every year. Its given me a lot of perspective on cultural differences and how experiences can shape who we are. I get along with young people very easily, and enjoy getting to there level to teach and also learn. i have experienced a lot for my age and certain I can contribute my knowledge and experience to assist in better learning of consent and healthy communication.

 

 

 

Photo of Birgitta

My passion is to advocate for anyone regardless of their age, culture, race, religion or gender. I believe in helping empower people, and particularly teenagers, to help them build confidence to make better life choices.

After a successful film career my background in this area started in 2016 volunteering for Child Matters culminating in a Diploma in Child Protection. During this time I also worked at the Refugee Orientation Centre Trust supporting refugees aged 6–13 years old with both written and spoken English language. In 2018 I took up a role with Oranga Tamariki working with tamariki who have mental health challenges, and was also a mentor for a young girl with global developmental delay through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I have attended a variety of training programmes including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, domestic violence, suicide prevention and childhood trauma. My previous film career has enabled me to work to fixed timeframes, coordinate and organise tasks in a changeable environment, interact with a diverse range of people whether they be one-on-one or in a group setting. 

 

 

 

Photo of Esther

Kia ora! Ko Esther tōku ingoa.  

I've been an educator for a big chunk of my life and I enjoy connecting with young people. I'm passionate about healthy relationships and I have a partner and two young sons whom I learn from every day. When I'm not in Auckland, I can usually be found in the Bay of Islands having adventures with my whanau. 

Ngā mihi nui, noho ora mai.

 

 

 

Photo of Geoff

Kia ora! I'm Geoff Gilson. I grew up in Christchurch but have lived in Auckland, as well as a few other places around the world (including a cruise ship for two years) since 1999. I completed a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts in Contemporary Dance: (Unitec:1999 –2001), and an MA in Performance and Media Arts: (AUT 2016-2017).  I have been working as a dancer and circus performer for almost 20 years now and as a Mates and Dates facilitator for the last two years.  I appreciate the power that education can have in creating social change.  Specifically,  I feel that healthy relationships are a key component of a fulfilling life that can then, in turn allow teenagers to want to work for positive change in the world themselves.  My other interests include ecology, health, and physical training.

 

 

 

Photo of Heather

Hello, Kia ora, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Fakatalofa atu, Salaam and Greetings to all.  I’m Heather and I’m a mum to two boys - one is at high school and the other is at university.  I have lived in central Auckland my whole life (apart from a three year stint living and working in London, and travelling as much as possible).  I am an educator and, amongst other things, have a background working with prisoners to improve their literacy.  I feel very privileged to be part of the Mates & Dates team.  Having the opportunity to empower young adults to navigate themselves safely, respectfully and confidently through an exciting and challenging stage of their lives is just fantastic.  

 

 

 

Photo of Kathy

Kia Ora!  I have worked for Empowerment Trust for the last 5 years, both as a facilitator for Mates and Dates and Confident Kids Program.  I am also the Relationship Manager. I have a background teaching students with Special Needs and I am passionate about helping young people advocate for themselves.  Working as a facilitator for Empowerment Trust has allowed me to be available for my two sons (ages 6 and 12) and still support students. I have lived in Army Bay for 6 years and love everything about the outdoors in this beautiful place.

 

 

 

Photo of Lucie

I have been an educator for 24 years, 18 of those were spent as a teacher in the UK.  I emigrated to NZ in 2014 with my family and spent the last 6 years working as a facilitator and team co-ordinator delivering health and sexuality programs in schools for Nest Consulting. I believe it is important for a facilitator to build supportive and positive relationships with not only their pupils but also with all staff and whanau and recognise and celebrate the strengths in our diversity. I am excited to be a part of a team who help empower our young people with necessary life skills to take charge of their futures.

 

 

 

Photo of Lynn

Kia ora, my name is Lynn. My family and I live in Auckland after emigrating from South Africa in 2011. People are my passion and with my background as an Industrial Psychologist, it gives me great pleasure in enabling people to develop from functioning normally to functioning optimally. I specialise in training and development, with 12 years’ experience, I have worked with diverse groups varying from all ages, cultures and levels within organisations and schools, delivering and developing training programmes. 

Being afforded the opportunity to be part of the dynamic Mates & Dates Team as a Facilitator, is truly a privilege. I thoroughly enjoy being part of the Team and joining them in making a positive difference. 

 

 

 

Megan Spice

My name is Megan Spice, I am a Mother of 2 young boys and live in West Auckland. My background is in Social Anthropology and Gender Studies and I am passionate about creating social change and working with young adults. 

I have experience in working in the LGBTQI community and enjoy supporting all people through their journey. I am thrilled to be part of the Mates and Dates team and feel very fortunate as a facilitator to empower young people by providing an open safe space that is engaging, honest and gives them the tools to practise healthy relationships.

 

 

 

Tena koe!  He uri tenei o Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi, Te Whakatohea, Ngai Tuhoe me Ngati Porou e mihi atu. My name is Merepaea Dunn and I am a mother to two beautiful young children aged 5 and 4 years old. 

I grew up in West Auckland where I currently live and have family connections to the West, Rodney and North Shore. I come from a family that have been steeped in the helping profession for many generations, particularly in health and education and am proud to be on board as a Mates and Dates facilitator. I bring to the role a background of expertise in student support, pastoral care, business entrepreneurship and health and social service. 

My facilitation experience comes from my current work in delivering Maori women’s leadership programmes in the women’s prison as well as a parenting programme to young teens and vulnerable Whanau on the North Shore. I love working with those in the margins of society and look forward to extending that care and education to our rangatahi - especially in such an important kaupapa as sexual violence prevention and healthy relationships - for the betterment of future generations of New Zealanders to come. Mauri ora kia tatou katoa!

 

 

 

Kia ora! I have a passion for advocating for the primary prevention of sexual violence framed by my work in strengthening mental health systems in South Africa and as a facilitator at Empowerment Trust working with young people on healthy relationship programmes at a primary, intermediate and high school level. Raising awareness about people safety and consent in our schools and communities is essential to sexual violence prevention, access to care and promotion of healthy relationships in our society.

 

 

 

Olivia Keesing

Tēnā rā koutou! Ko wai tēnei? He uri ahau nō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, nō Ngāti Tūwharetoa hoki. Ko Olivia Keesing tōku ingoa. 

My passion for sexual health and healthy relationship education comes from my own experiences as a young person, where I was empowered by being actively involved in these conversations. I furthered this interest through my studies in Sociology and Gender Studies. 

I also work as a Kaiako teaching te reo Māori to adults. I am very passionate about te reo and tikanga Māori and I believe there is space for indigenous values to enrich the way we talk about relationships with young people.

 

 

 

Photo of Rose

I’m Rose Archer - I'm a documentary maker and a passionate advocate for teaching our young people to live healthy relationships. My most recent film is all about bringing social and emotional learning into the education system, and has taken me to Europe and Africa to document some of the most cutting edge and comprehensive social and emotional education taking place today.

Within my community and industry I design and run workshops to build healthier workplace culture and relationships practices. I love to mentor young people through my work, and also take part in running leadership workshops for young people. 

I completed a BA in History and Psychology at the University of Auckland and Manchester University.

 

 

 

Photo of Scott

Hi, I'm Scott. I'm passionate about guiding youth to use their intuition and awareness to build and maintain healthy relationships. I completed a Bachelor of Physical Health and Education in 2012 and have worked in various fields of education since then. I have been a Mates and Dates Facilitator for the last three years and also have the role of Empowerment Trust's Local Designated Person for Child Protection. 

Outside of work, I am an avid surfer, outdoor enthusiast and dedicated meditator. I spent the start of summer 2020, exploring India and have taken on the challenge of completing 10,000 hours of meditation within the next ten years. I love combining the skills I have with the work we do and am grateful to be a member of Empowerment Trust’s valuable team.

 

 

 

Photo of Vanessa

Vanessa is a cis-gendered Pakeha woman who lives and works in West Auckland. Vanessa has worked in the field of preventative sexual violence education and sexuality education, more generally, for twenty years. Currently, Vanessa is focused on completing her doctorate titled, ‘Re-considering ethics and erotics in New Zealand sexuality education’. With a background in the non-profit sector and social justice activism Vanessa is passionate about supporting young people to be themselves in healthy relation with others. Vanessa’s fulfilment comes from her work and from spending time swimming in the sea, gardening, parenting and making art. 

 

 

 

 

Canterbury

Photo of Deb

Kia Ora, through my studies in nursing and counselling my career journey has travelled the road of mental health and well-being holding both professional and personal passion in areas of growth and safety supporting the mental health of our community. I have been privileged to work alongside people who have experienced various levels of pain and emotional trauma from diagnosis of HIV/AIDS 30 years ago in the UK to working with Police service members and their families, managing their witness of the struggles and hardship life can have not only on their community but also themselves. As a health advisor supporting men and women in the sex industry around personal health and safety to being a school counsellor and sexual health advisor providing support around anxiety, depression, self-harming, unplanned pregnancy sexual violence and youth suicide continues to confirm my belief with the knowledge we can never get complacent with the safety and well-being of our communities and working together with schools and high school students opens up all these conversations respectively.

 

 

 

Photo of Charlene

Hi, along with facilitating Mates and Dates I am a registered teacher currently working in a variety of schools as teacher relief. I also have extensive professional experience in both community and hospital nursing including five years specialising in Youth Health. I strongly believe in school-based education that builds on young people’s strengths and skills that empower rangatahi to be confident, connected, lifelong learners. I look forward to facilitating Mates and Dates to educate young people about healthy relationships and preventing sexual and dating violence so that as a community we can work together to put an end to this issue that is harming our community.

 

 

 

Photo of Georgina

Kia ora koutou, I am an enthusiastic public health and law undergrad student alongside my role as a Mates & Dates facilitator. I have been an advocate for general health and wellbeing all my life, especially that of females. Through this programme, I am excited to work with young people to enhance their knowledge of how their words and actions affect themselves, their peers and broader society. I believe that all young people want to be good, and working with them to channel that passion is a skill I hope to learn continuously. When I graduate from University, I am excited to use my knowledge gained to work in the legal sector toward preventing dating and sexual violence.

 

 

 

Photo of Harry

Kia Ora! I have been a youth and community worker for the last five years in Aotearoa and in my home country, Australia. In these roles worked with families and young people experiencing sexual, dating, intimate partner and family violence. I facilitated programmes about healthy relationships, media literacy and sexual health for young people. Prior to this work I completed a Masters in Philosophy. During this study I formed the belief that engaging in critical thinking about sex, relationships and romance can empower us to have better relationships with ourselves and others. I am currently studying a Masters of Social Work and hope to continue the work I do in Mates and Dates, promoting critical thinking and fostering communities of care to eradicate violence altogether and empower young people to have healthy, happy and safe relationships. 

 

 

 

Photo of Jess

Kia ora! From journalism to fitness instructing to life as a pastry chef, I have since been immersed in the world of Health Education for the last three years. I am a passionate advocate for community empowerment when it comes to health, and quality relationships and sexuality education (RSE) for our rangatahi. Last year I graduated from the Bachelor of Health Studies at the University of Canterbury, with a double-major in Health Education and Psychology. I feel strongly about facilitating in RSE today as I didn’t receive in-school education around healthy relationships and consent as a teen, and can appreciate the value it would have brought to my life growing up. I want to ensure rangatahi are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be safe and live healthy and fulfilling lives.

 

 

 

Photo of Justine

Kia ora! Originally from France where I studied outdoor education and social coaching, I have travelled some of the world using my outdoor skills to discover beautiful areas and cultures. This adventure encouraged me to be open-minded and seeking for constant self-improvement. It left me humble and passionate.  I spent the past ten years working with teenagers either at school camp or at their foster care. I carry these experiences through my teaching today, hence I like to have genuine conversations with people who are developing themselves.  I have recently moved to Christchurch to pursue my new career in osteopathy. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity Mates and Dates offers me. I am looking forward to delivering some of my life experience and social skills to young people.

 

 

 

Photo of Laura

Kia ora! I am very passionate about education that creates a preventative approach. I've spent 11 years facilitating parenting, wellbeing and trauma informed practice. I have worked predominantly in regional correctional facilities working with inmates who are parents. Throughout this work I've become increasingly passionate about the importance of informed consent, respectful and healthy relationships and challenging identity stereotypes. I have also worked within the foster care setting supporting and educating caregivers and extended whānau. I am a strong advocate for creating change within a whānau and have lived experience of stopping intergenerational violence in my own family. I want to empower our Rangatahi to be critical thinkers and create positive change in our community. I absolutely love facilitation and using a collaborative approach.

 

 

 

Photo of Marie

Kia ora! l’m Marie, Mum of two gorgeous children, a nine year old boy and a 13 year old girl. Before they came along l taught for many years in primary schools both here and in the UK. I have a Bachelor of Education and Diplomas in both Early Childhood and Primary Education, as well a Postgraduate qualification in guidance and counselling. 

I absolutely love being a Mates and Dates Facilitator and having the chance to engage with young people as they explore healthy relationships. I am particularly passionate about creating safe environments where everyone feels respected and comfortable to share their ideas and experiences. In addition to delivering the programme I feel lucky to be in the Outreach Coordinator role, working closely with schools and building collaborative relationships.

 

 

 

Photo of Martin

Kia ora! I have always had a passion for helping and supporting others to flourish in their own lives, where this has led me to study at the University of Canterbury to be a secondary school teacher. I am studying and majoring in a Bachelor of Arts in English, while also doing Health Education and Education papers. Through my own personal interests and these studies, I have always had a strong interest in health and wellbeing and how we can support each other to live our greatest lives and our most authentic experiences. I have previously facilitated at two primary schools in the areas of Physical Activity and Health, and believe that schooling is a fantastic place to inspire young people in this field to help them live fruitful lives. 

 

 

 

Photo of Megan

Kia ora, I am a facilitator and educator with experience in the field of Healthy Relationships and Consent Education, Sexual Violence Prevention, Child Protection and Wellbeing and Mental Health Promotion. I have worked with tamariki, rangatahi and adults in a range of educational settings including primary and secondary schools, alternative and special education providers, and Canterbury University. 

I have a Masters in Health Sciences endorsed in Health and Community and am passionate about supporting the wellbeing of all those I work with and empowering others to do this in their work with tamariki and rangatahi also.

 

 

 

Photo of Michael

Hi, I’m Michael! I am a born and bred Cantabrian. I am a second year bachelor of health sciences student at the University of Canterbury, majoring in public health and health education. Through my degree I have been given the opportunity to teach at both high school and primary school ages around a range of health topics. I am an advocate for encouraging students to raise their voice to understand what they already know and what they want to be educated about.

 

 

 

Photo of Michelle

Kia ora I have been with the Canterbury Mates and Dates team from the beginning of 2018. I love the outdoors and am very grateful to have the beach and snow conveniently located close by. A superb playground for my two school aged children.

For the last eight years I have been facilitating Collaborative/Resilience workshops in a number of diverse Christchurch schools.  I believe a sense of community can make a positive difference to our younger folk, along with the incredible opportunities from our ever-changing technology. My passion for the arts and sport with a sense of fun, is an excellent mix to create enthusiasm and confidence.

 

 

 

Photo of Rachel

My name is Rachel.  I mostly grew up in the Bay of Plenty and now live with my family in Rolleston.  I am a mum of two and have been involved in education in one way or another for over 20 years.  I currently hold a number of contracts working with vulnerable youth, parent’s groups, children with learning disabilities, teacher resourcing and facilitation with high school aged children. 

I love the diversity of my roles and I love being involved in the Mates and Dates programme.

 

 

 

Following obtaining my Bachelor of Social Work I undertook roles working with children and families. During my roles as a Care and Protection Social Worker and Specialist Child Witness Interviewer I saw first-hand the impacts of family and sexual violence on children, families and communities.  Working as a Sensitive Claims Counsellor and Social Worker I was exposed to the often life long lasting effects of trauma on survivors and their families.  My understanding of abuse and trauma has equipped me with a drive to prevent trauma and educate and empower children and young people to build positive healthy relationships with themselves and others.  I believe that we are all responsible for empowering our younger generation to develop confidence and a strong self-belief in themselves so they can live a most powerful life.

 

 

 

Photo of Rowan

Kia ora, I was exposed to circus, physical theatre and street performance from a very young age. It was through high school drama and Christchurch Polytechnics Circo Arts School, where I first pursued an interest in the performing arts.  After high school, I jumped straight into a teaching degree. Some soul-searching and travelling followed before I went on to complete an ICT degree at Ara Institute of Canterbury. After working in IT as a software tester, I shifted into a testing facilitator role. In 2019 I joined UniSmart. A unique, live presentation that informs and engages first year tertiary students.  My spare time is full of surfing, skiing, diving, climbing, hiking, and adventures in the wilderness.  I’m very excited to be part of the Mates & Dates team to educate young minds around Canterbury. I really want to empower students to approach life with compassion and confidence.

 

 

 

 

Nelson-Tasman

photo of cornelia

I have seen again and again that we make a real and positive difference.

When I first did my Fullpower course in 1992, my view of life hugely improved because I stopped feeling disadvantaged being a woman and of small stature. I found that - in threatening situations - I could focus on the best outcome possible and use incredibly effective strategies and tools. I felt worthy, free and capable.

In 1993, I gained Kidpower International instructor certification, founded Empowerment Trust under the name of Vital Victories and adapted the programme for New Zealand with the help of NZ Police, other professionals, my partner and passionate friends and supporters.

I now have taught positive ‘People Safety’ to over 20,000 people in NZ, am on the advisory boards of Kidpower International, am an Advisor to the Empowerment Trust NZ and still love teaching people from all walks of life.

 

 

 

photo of maree

Kia ora, my work history and my life’s passion has always been in health and education. Having said that, my family was and is core to that work and passion. Safety with the freedom to live with self-confidence are the underlying drives that inspire me. This is why Empowerment Trust is such a good fit for me. I became involved initially as a participant in a Fullpower workshop then co-ordinated bringing Kidpower into my children’s school. I volunteered for the organisation for some time then trained to facilitate programmes. I’ve held various roles within the organisation so I believe I can speak for the integrity and efficacy of the programmes we provide. As facilitators, our Code of Conduct holds us to high standards as does our passion for the mahi. I think it is essential for us to build communities based on healthy relationships and that begins with our relationship with ourselves.

 

 

 

Photo of Paul J

Kia Ora, I am a local community Youth Worker in Motueka. I have over 15 years’ experience working with young people and have managed several projects with youth over this time. Currently I work for the Empowerment Trust as a padded instructor and deliver Mates and Dates. I am the Co-Chair of the Nelson Tasman Youth Work Collective and treasure being able to offer my skills and knowledge to the Youth Workers of the region. I am passionate about the environment, creative arts and enabling Young People to have their say, be heard and to assist them to make positive changes for themselves, their relationships and their communities.

 

 

 

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