Te Ao Whãnau Members

Brian Thomas - Trust Manager, Bay of Plenty

ThomasBorn: Waimate South Canterbury

Raised: On a farm in Waikakahi 7 1/2 miles from Waimate.

Work History:

  • I year farming.
  • 14 years at Pukeuri freezing works, North Otago
  • 2 years - Waterfront Industries Commission - Mount Maunganui - Pay office, Labour accounts. Bureau.
  • 2 years 3rd, 2nd and 1st Chief North Shore Hospital, Auckland.
  • 18 months Cherry Farm Hospital – Otago: (1 yr. central kitchen, 3 months psychiatric assistant, 3 months managing a garden gang for Cherry Farm residents).
  • 4 years co-managing Rest Homes in Orokanui and Dunedin.
  • 10 years managing a level two home in Oamaru for people experiencing mental unwellness for PACT Otago, also managing 60 hours community support per week
  • I year as National Quality Coordinator for Supporting Families NZ. (then Schizophrenia Fellowship NZ)
  • 20 months as Acting National Manager for Supporting Families NZ. (then Schizophrenia Fellowship NZ)
  • 3.5 years as the Manager of the WORX Department for Gracelands Group of Services Te Awamutu.

Current Role: Trust Manager for the Western Bay of Plenty Mental Health Trust since 2011.

Quals: Certificates in:

  • Management.
  • Quality Systems and Auditing Principles.
  • International Management and Technology ISO 9001:2000 Lead Auditor.
  • NZIM Quality Management. NZOQ Internal Auditing.
  • Mental Health.

Trained in:

  • Solution Focused Supervision.
  • Family Connections Leadership.
  • Te Wana Accreditation and Quality Reviewing.
  • Mentoring.
  • Tiriti O Waitangi.

Plus many one-day trainings attended

Skills I bring: The above plus:

  • A passion for people and walking alongside.
  • Listening.
  • Life.
  • Sharing.
  • Decision-making.
  • Down-to-earthiness and a sprinkling of humour.

Representation: Families throughout the Bay of Plenty through networks and reports from key organisations, plus face to face consultation with families.

Nationally through long-term connections with organisations in the sector.

Jim Dickinson - Family & Whanau Advisor MH, Taranaki 

DickinsonRole:  Family and Whanau Advisor Mental Health Taranaki DHB

Credentials: Diploma of Teaching and B Ed. (a double major in Education and Curriculum studies) I have 4 years experience in education research which involved considerable consultation and communication.

Sector Linkages and Networks: I am a member of the Taranaki Local Advisory Group and over the last six months have been building my relationships within the DHB and NGO sector as well as developing my own advisory group as a Family and Whanau Advisor. I am also a member of the ‘National DHB Family, Whanau Advisors’ group.

Profile: I live with my partner Anne and between us we have 5 adult children and 9 Grandchildren. None of our children live with us but we do share our home with Anne’s Mother who has Dementia.

I have a varied employment history starting in Civil Service Personnel Management and progressing through Bicycle Mechanic, Organic Farmer, School Teacher, Educational Researcher, Adult Education Manager and today Family and Whanau Advisor.  There were also other bits and pieces along the way not worth listing here.

Skills that I Bring:

1. Personal experience of supporting a family member with mental health and/or addiction that allows you to provide a family whanau perspective preferably over a range of age groups or specialty areas.

I am qualified by experience having supported two family members and a close friend through episodes of acute mental illness.  Two of these whanau used Adult Services and one MHSOP.  As a teacher I also had involvement with whanau and students using CAMHS and worked with CAMHS staff.

2. Strong leadership skills with established networks into key stakeholder groups or representative nominations from the key stakeholder groups.

My work in Educational Research was about improving the achievement of Maori students in mainstream schools which involved a lot of consultation with students, whanau and teachers then trying to apply their ideas and desires in a constructive and mutually satisfying manner consistent with best practice evidence.  This was a nation wide project involving a number of schools at different levels, each with an embedded facilitator driving and monitoring change unique to that school but also working together in what was effectively a managed network communicating mostly by e-mail with hui 7 to 9 times each year.

Apart from consultation and feedback I did not work directly with Maori students during this project the focus was on initiating systems and practice change within the school, evaluating the benefits (or otherwise) of those changes and communicating those outcomes to students, whanau, teachers, the Ministry of Education and at national conferences.  We trialled a number of initiatives and embedded those most effective at sustaining change.  During my four years on this project the school I was based at consistently raised the average academic scores of it’s new cohorts of Maori pupils from 1 year below national averages to equal or better than national averages for all students results which were considered outstanding.

3. Strong communication skills with established relationships with key stakeholder groups / networks where information can be fed to and from the network

I am reasonably academic having a Diploma of Teaching and B Ed. which equips me to understand / decipher the documents MRGAFW deals with.  My most recent previous employment included managing adult education programmes including several adult literacy programmes, this has left me with an understanding and passion about how important it is that we tailor documents so that the language is accessible to lay people.  Since becoming a Family and Whanau Advisor it has become very apparent to me that the MH&A sector is often writing at a level that excludes many of our people and if I want to genuinely consult the full spectrum of Family and Whanau I need to bridge that gap.

I have only been in my role for 10 months so I am still developing my relationships with stakeholder groups.  I have mostly been working with SF Taranaki support group people but I am aware that this group is not truly representative of whanau who use our service, being generally retired people who have been involved with Mental Health Services for many years.  I am slowly building relationships with a broader base of stakeholders, but it is frustratingly slow as whanau who are new to our service generally have more immediate priorities.

4. A good understanding of national and regional drivers

Being relatively new to a Family and Whanau Advisor role I have put a lot of effort into understanding how MH&A services work and I think I have developed a good understanding of national and regional drivers.

5. Working with Maori expertise

Some of my ancestors are Maori however I regard myself as culturally Pakeha.  I have had what I believe was significant success working with Maori, firstly as a teacher where my success with disadvantaged Maori boys in particular led to me being shoulder tapped to lead the school’s work on improving Maori student achievement.  When I was managing adult education almost half of our students had Maori ancestors and we achieved equitable outcomes for them.

I have never considered working with Maori to be particularly difficult or unique.  Consult widely, tap into the power of whanau, show everyone the respect they are due and act with integrity.

6. Proven track record for delivering results.

I have a track record of delivering results both as the person directly producing the outcome and the person initiating and leading change. I find the role of the person initiating and leading change the most challenging as so much is out of my hands and I can’t just work longer hours until I achieve a result. Instead I had to learn to educate, motivate and then be patient. What I have found is that if you can show people a pathway to a better result they will follow it.

Wi Te Tau Huata - Family Advisor, Lakes



  • BA Performing Arts 2004
  • National Certificate & Diploma in Mental Health 2002
  • Leadership Training - Blueprint 2004
  • Award Recipient "Paraire Huata Awards" Te Rau Matatini 2016
  • Koro to seven grandchildren
  • Worked in Health sector, as a Mental Health & Addiction community support worker
  • Facilitator and trainer Maori models of practice, worked with Te Ngaru Learning Systems (Paraire Huata) participated in all Miria te Hinengaro Wananga 1998 — 2002
  • Consumer representation on research team that gathered information on "Mental Health Outcomes for Maori." 1998 Dyal, Bridgman The research was subsequently published in the Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, Issue 12
  • Programme Co-ordinator for and Early intervention Kaupapa Maori service Te Whare Hauora o Ngongotaha, and Karldon Trust.
  • Has experience as auditor of Mental Health providers;
  • Rotorua Probation service Wananga (with Paraire Huata) Waikeria prison;
  • Tutor Kapa Haka for mokopuna primary school, and early Childcare Centre.
  • Lighting Production and Stage Management of events;

Sector Linkages:

  • Former member of Miri te Hinengaro Kia Tupu He Whakaaro 1995 - 2000
  • Te Rau Matatini (resource person for Tangata Whaiora projects 2008 —2017)


Performing Arts background come from a whanau who have nurtured the development of Wananga and Kapa Haka, and all aspects of Performing Arts.

Strong knowledge and understanding of tikanga Maori and how this should be applied in a Kaupapa service environment.

Committed to ensuring the issues for Maori consumers are considered in developments from a service level through to regional and national developments.

Worked in the Hospitality and Health sector. Health — Mental Health and Addictions services. Worked with Te Whare Hauora o Ngongotaha, and Karldon Trust (Maori Mental Health providers Lakes District)

Participated in a number of regional and national forum for Maori consumers.

Ringawera at all whanau marae provide leadership as required and able to run the kitchen at events.

The greatest role I have had is being a great Dad to my children, and Koro to my grandchildren and ensuring they have all the love and support they need.

Skills I bring:

A range of skills and attributes as noted above. Bertram and I are currently sitting on the national Maori whaiora forum "He Tupuana Nga kakano" we need to ensure that Maori whaiora from across the region are informed of developments at a national level, and in turn we are aware of what the issues are and can take these to the forum for consideration.

We may not necessarily need to be members of Te Huinga o Nga Pou but indeed have an opportunity to share what is happening, and be able to link in with other networks across the Midland region.

Hine Moeke-Murray - Manager, Tairawhiti

MurrayCredentials: Bachelor Matauranga Maori, Post graduate Diploma Maori Studies, Post Graduate Diploma Maori and Management, Diploma Suicide Intervention and Prevention, Educator Maori Suicide and Intervention, Education Clinical Processes of Death and Dying

Sector Linkages and Networks: Community Mental Health and Addictions, Acute Mental health and Addictions, Supporting Families Tairawhiti, Te Kupenga Net Trust, Ngati Porou Hauora, Turanga Health, Koroua and Kuia Local, Marae Groups, Whanau whanui, Maori Qualifications Whakaruruhau Chair (National), MR GAFW and MR Worforce Advisory Group.


Kia ora tatou

Ko Hikurangi te Maunga, Ko Waiapu te Awa, Ko Uepohatu te Ariki Tapaeru Ko Uepohatu te Iwi Ko Maui te tipuna, Ko Maui te Atua, Ko Porourangi te tangata, Ko Nga Tini o Porou - Ngati Porou whanau whanui te iwi te rohe.

I am first and foremost wahine Maori, a wife, mum and grandmother.  However in my other life I am a cultural assessor for the Cultural Assessment Team Community Mental Health and Addictions Tairawhiti District Health Board.  It is a privilege and pleasure to work for the only integrated cultural and mainstream team in Mental Health in Aotearoa that works alongside of the Psychiatric Assessment Team for all crisis and acute intervention 24/7, where kaupapa Maori intervention is valued, respected and acted on at first point of contact and assessment.  I have been in this role for nearly four years.  Previously I worked for Hauora Maori in General Medicine as the Kaiatawhai – Advocate for Maori inpatients at TDH.  I have also worked with the Bereavement Care Team (Mortality Management Specialists) Counties Manukau District Health Board.

Skills that I Bring:  A definite Maori lens in terms of working with family and whanau.  I have extensive experience working at a national and regional level for Maori centred initiatives.  I believe in and promote the health and well being of Maori and whanau and that the essence of Maori is found in our culture and the tohu that have been left by tipuna.

I have management skills, the ability to view issues through a wide lens, I have extensive front line working knowledge of acute un-wellness for Tangata Whaiora and understand the absolute importance for the involvement of whanau whakapapa or whanau kaupapa as part of healing.

Ann Grennell - Director, Waikato 


  • David Foreman Excellence and Business Performance Management: Te Wananga O Aotearoa (Small business Maori Management)
  • Live Experiences

Sector Linkages and Networks:

  • Eight years Family Representative to the Local Advisory Group (LAG), Facilitator Waikato Family Provider Group (WFPGrp), Original Clinical Governance Group member to support Waikato DHB, Child and Youth and Addictions Services covering North and South regions (South Waikato & Hauraki regions),( Southern & Northern Waikato CAMHS cluster).
  • Provided input into revised services specs (A national project).


Ko Te Arawa te Waka, Ko Tongariro te Maunga, Ko Tuwharetoa te Iwi, Ko Kauriki te Marae, Ko Ann Grennell toku ingoa.

Kia ora

I have worked in the NGO sector for 24 years under contracts for corrections (working for inmates in prison and their families), health (working in support of families with children diagnosed with child mental health conditions e.g. ADHD, ADD, ODD), and CY&F (working with families of children with challenging behaviours, CD).  Of those 24 years I have fulfilled the roles of fieldworker and whanau worker(specifically working in support of & alongside Maori Whanau).  For the past 17 years I have been in a Management role for Rostrevor House Inc – (Providing specialist support services to children, adult and families having a range of diagnosed undiagnosed mental health conditions).

Managed change from the MRHA through to DHB.  Successful negotiations for funding increases and bid for ‘cluster’ place in both regions for the Waikato Cluster.

Career History: Whilst working for Rostrevor House professional achievements are growth and development of Rostrevor House Inc from one part time staff (15 hours) to 11 staff (Main office in Hamilton, two branch offices in Tokoroa and Hauraki).  Developed and completed NMHSS and also developed and achieved a Maori Health Plan (MHP).  I have achieved standard requirement to meet the DHB audit, Policy and procedures required to meet the CY&F Audit (16 standards of approval leading on to successful negotiations with (MSD) Strengthening Families contract for service delivery and training contracts.  Also held a seat on Local Management Service Group, was original member to lead out costings around payments for services and roles for S/F e.g. Lead Agency Co-ordinator roles.

Skills that I Bring: My earlier years of life were one of immediate family members being incarcerated at a very early age for several years on and off (this continues).  Another alcohol and drug abuse residential programme, (with varying levels of dependency still today) and having a mental illness still being managed through medication, therefore I believe I can provide personal insight support for the evaluation criteria, particularly around Maori COPMI, addictions child adolescent and / or youth.

I would definitely consider that I have strong leadership skills through my work history and in particular my successful application for a scholarship to attend the (IIMHL) International Initiative Mental Health Leadership application (10 only throughout NZ, this I achieved twice) thereby representing NZ family work on an international and global scale.

Growth and development of Rostrevor House Inc from one part time staff (15 hours) to 11 full time staff (Main office in Hamilton, two branch offices in Tokoroa and Hauraki) (mix of SW/MH workers, Child/Adult consultant psychiatrist) - Family social workers attached to clinical staff members.

I believe I can provide a balanced perspective required in influencing change, promoting discussion for the betterment of families, I know I possess this quality and skill.  I also understand the politics of the health environment, from funding and planning through to service delivery and am undaunted and confident in my challenges at all levels.

I was happy to put my name forward as a member for Ao Whanau and have had my application endorsed by the Waikato Provider Family Group.

Lisa Baty - Family Whanau Advisor, Tairawhiti


  • National Mental Health Support Work Certificate
  • General & Applied Psychology paper
  • National Certificate in Business Computing
  • In service WRAP training (Mary-Ellen Copeland’s program)
  • Attended numerous workshops: Like Minds – Stigma and discrimination, Co-existing Disorders, Psychosis Early Intervention etc.
  • Currently undertaking final year Bachelor in Social Work (Bi-culturalism in practice)

Sector Linkages:

Former member of He Tipuana Nga Kakano, Te Tairawhiti representative – very brief stay.

Local working relationships with: CAMHS, TDH Community Mental Health and Addictions, TDH Acute Inpatient Unit, Primary Health, Local NGO Mental Health and Addictions, Local NASC, Local Social Service agencies - Tau Awhi Men’s Centre; Te Aka Ora; STAND, Education sector – Gisborne Gisborne Girls High School, Te Wananga O Aotearoa, Lytton High School.


I was introduced to mental illness at a very early stage of my life however the term "mental illness" was unheard of and what I witnessed my older adult sister going through was referred to as a "nervous breakdown". As a result of this experience, I know only too well the impacts that such a breakdown has on the family and whanau as a whole; and realise that the breakdown and recovery do not occur in isolation. Although I recognise that each situation is a deeply and personally unique one, I am able to draw on this experience and provide a family and whanau perspective.

I left school at the age of 15yrs to pursue work in a factory. Started off in operations then progressively moved towards the management team undertaking Quality Control Work and 2IC. At the age of 23yrs I had accepted and was ready to embark on the promotional offer as Shift Supervisor which never eventuated due to my first episode of un-wellness.

2007 – Completed the National Certificate in Mental Health Support Work. Also had my first and only child during this year. Continued to study part time, and pick up part time employment as a retail assistant before landing a full time employment opportunity with Challenge Trust.

2010 – 2014 Employee of Challenge Trust; aka Recovery Solutions as Peer Support, also picking up additional roles with the likes of Consumer Representative, and intermittent periods as Team Leader. My employment with Recovery Solutions involved ongoing engagement and interaction with tangata whaiora, their family and whanau and significant others, for example the clinical staff. The Peer Support role enabled a consumer perspective to guide and inform provision of service.

2014 Part-time position as Rangatahi and Whanau Support Social Worker employed by Te Aka Ora and contracted to Gisborne Girls High School.


  • Ability to engage with people from all walks of life
  • Solution focused attitude
  • Ability to challenge the status quo
  • Meet deadlines and work within timeframes
  • Effective communication skills
  • Research and rangahau
  • Report writing
  • Critical analysis
  • Proficient in data analysis and reports
  • Basic knowledge and understanding of tikanga and kawa
  • Basic Te Reo speaker
  • Passionate about making a difference – outcome drive
Jimi Ropiha-Stewart - Family / Whãnau Advisor, Taranaki 


  • B.A.(Eng lit); Dip.Tchg (sec); C.E.L.T.A.; P.G Dip.Arts (social work)
  • Diplomas in accessible web content
  • Certificates in business and media writing

Sector Linkages:

  • Networks within Mental Health & Addictions Services in Taranaki;
  • Taranaki Mental Health & Addictions Cross-Sectoral Governance Group;
  • Midland Consumer & Whānau Leadership Network: Nga Kōpara o te Rito;
  • National DHB Family/Whānau Advisors’ group;


I grew up in New Plymouth and attended New Plymouth Boys’ High School. I did my first year of study at Waikato University, studying English literature and psychology. I then relocated to Wellington where I completed my degree at Victoria University and my Diploma of Teaching (in secondary education) at the Teachers’ College. During this time my mother was diagnosed with young-onset dementia, so I split my time studying, working, and caring for her back in New Plymouth.  After her passing I went abroad, working in several different countries - mainly teaching.

In 2002 I returned to NZ and started working as a mental health community support worker in a supported living setting. I then transferred to a community mobile team, and eventually got promoted to the team leader position for a supported living complex in the community.

Then I met my wife; we have a daughter; and one of the conditions of marriage was that I join her on her delayed OE. So I returned to teaching in various countries abroad.

We returned to New Plymouth 3 years ago and I took up work as a remote web content producer for a company based in Bangkok, and volunteered as a researcher for the NZ National Council for Women. I took up the position of part-time Family & Whānau Advisor in August 2018.


  • A good listener and observer;
  • Good at researching, critiquing systems, questioning why things are necessary, and finding better ways.
  • Excellent written and oral communicator with a keen eye and ear for languaging.
  • Lived experience and empathy from supporting family and friends with mental health challenges.
  • My social work studies gave me the discipline and philosophical framework to hang my practice around: teaching me the importance of acknowledging people as the experts of their own situation; working alongside people in a strengths-based, dialogical relationship towards achieving their goals; and that all work needs to be ‘locally appropriate’.
  • My experiences overseas have brought me into contact with many different cultures and backgrounds and taught me to be curious and open-minded towards others, and to appreciate and celebrate difference.


Logo Line

The Te Ao Whanau network is supported by the Midland Regional Mental Health & Addictions Network Team: