Workshop facilitators

Our people bring diverse skills, cultures and life experiences.

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    Amy Alexander

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    I am Amy Alexander – mother, daughter, sister and aunt.

    Along with 39 years’ experience with addiction and recovery, I am also a dapaanz registered addiction practitioner and an accredited supervisor.

    I’m motivated to contribute to the destigmatisation of addiction/recovery and to support family members impacted by both. 


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    Andrew Gifford

    Facilitator - Addiction 101 

    Andrew Gifford is one of our workshop facilitators.

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    Andy Hearn

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Hi, I’m Andy and I live in Christchurch.

    I’ve always worked in health and education – most recently developing and leading staff wellbeing programmes at the Canterbury DHB (immediately after the earthquakes), Emerge Aotearoa, and Ara Institute of Canterbury (Canterbury Polytech).

    I have supported many colleagues through periods of mental distress and have a long history of managing my own depression. As a result, I’m really passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

    Working as a MH101® facilitator is the perfect opportunity for me to connect with others, help raise the level of health literacy in NZ, promote a stronger focus on mental wellbeing, and support people experiencing mental distress.

    I look after my own wellbeing by searching out opportunities to learn and spending time at the beach…especially surfing!

    I look forward to meeting you at a MH101® workshop.

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    Aroha Crosbie

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Kia ora, I’m Aroha.

    Adored partner, proud mother, treasured daughter, fun nana, super sister, loving aunty, best cat and dog companion ever!

    When I’m not at home indulging in reality TV, gardening, walking on the beach and being artistically creative I can be found working with an exceptionally gifted group of people as a part of the Addiction 101 facilitator team!

    I have been working in the addiction and mental health sector in residential and community outreach settings for more than 10 years. It is an honour to work in a culture that collectively invests in the wellbeing of communities in Aotearoa. Together we all can and do make a difference.

    I look forward to seeing you at one of our workshops soon!

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    Bernie Thijssen

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Greetings to you. I come to these workshops with 35 years of experience in mental health, including addiction. In addition, I grew up in a community with close ties to mental health services and was privileged to witness recovery during all manner of mental health challenges and appreciate true compassion for people. 

    In my work in coexisting problems of mental health and addiction, I have learned to value the space that is created between people, by people, in which magic happens.  

    I believe that being part of the Blueprint workshops is another opportunity to develop space for learning by being together with our combined experience and energy to promote wellbeing across communities. 

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    Brody Runga

    Facilitator - MH101®, Addiction 101 and Corrections Health Service Nurses Primary Mental Health and Addiction Education Programme

    I have worked in various roles across both mental health and addiction services over the last decade. I now support various organisations acting as an independent consultant, facilitator and trainer.

    A lot of my career has been involved in supporting lived experience initiatives such as DRIVE Consumer Direction, Te Kete Pounamu and Recovery College, working with various stakeholders and groups of people living with mental distress and substance use challenges.

    I am passionate about creativity for wellbeing, and I support Tufuga Arts Trust in Counties Manukau. I am currently studying towards a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts.

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    Bryce Hay

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Kia ora

    I've been an alcohol and drug counsellor for 20 years after graduating with a Bachelor of Alcohol and Drug Studies.  Since that point, I have also completed a Masters in Social Work and am registered with both DAPAANZ and The Social Work Registration Board. 

    Before I became a counsellor, I had my own lived experience and was working in another industry.  Since retraining, I have spent most of my time working for District Health Boards, including as a counsellor, a clinical supervisor and at a regional level. 

    Having been on 'both sides of the fence', I have a passion for this work, especially around reducing stigma towards those dealing with dependency issues.  My focus is for my clients to receive the best research-based care they can, empowering them to work out their treatment pathways with the best tools available. 

    I'm excited to be a part of Blueprint for Learning with its focus on education, as I believe this is a very important part of reducing stigma. I hope those that attend these workshops will go on to help with the mahi.  

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    Carina Allen

    Facilitator - MH101®

    My journey over the last decade in the area of mental health has seen me working with individuals and groups, and in a range of roles and settings but always with the same purpose – to deepen understanding. I am passionate about the idea of people finding value in their experience as well as their contributions.

    Facilitating for Blueprint for Learning gives me the opportunity to deliver a programme that aligns with my values, a programme I can deliver confidently, knowing that the information proffered, as well as the delivery style, reflects current best practice and research.

    Alongside my facilitator role at Blueprint for Learning, I am a children’s counselor at Atareira, a peer supporter on The Piki Project, a business owner and operator at The Zen Division and a founding member of ATLEN (Aotearoa Therapists with Lived Experience Network: Empowering therapists who wear two lenses), amongst other things.

    I dance whenever I can (in-car dancing included), for, ‘While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself form life. I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance.’

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    Celia King

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Kia ora. I am a counsellor working mainly with Deaf, hearing impaired and disabled people. I am fluent in NZSL and am excited to be able to facilitate workshops for the Deaf community.

    Kindness, caring and compassion are three values that guide my work as I walk alongside people experiencing distress or struggling with addiction.

    I love the wellness model of Te Whare Tapa Whā which considers the whole person, their whānau and their community; to lead a balanced, satisfying life.

    Kire, a Golden Collie, is my Hearing Assistance Dog and is also a Therapy Dog. She sometimes works with me to help people relax and smile again. We both enjoy trips in the car, walks on the beach and lazing in the sun.

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    Dr Chris Taua


    Facilitator - MH101®

    I feel privileged to be part of the team of facilitators delivering MH101 for Blueprint. With a long background in mental health nursing practice and health and social service education, I feel confident and encouraged to share my expertise with you.

    My passion lies in assisting everyday people to gain the skills to recognise and support each other in moments of distress while demystifying the various notions around mental unwellness and other causes of distress.

    My workshop facilitation is informed by understandings of cultural safety and is delivered with appropriate humour. Adaptability to learners’ needs is key to this.

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    Damian Holt

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    I am currently working as an addictions advocate for MHAPS based in Christchurch.

    I have previously worked with Odyssey Youth and also facilitated Stigma & Discrimination workshops for MHERC.

    My focus is for people experiencing addiction to recognise they are individuals and have every opportunity to overcome their challenges. This philosophy also attains to those who haven't experienced addiction or don't understand the challenges it entails. 

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    Denny McNae

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I was born in Christchurch, and now reside in Hamilton where I live on a small lifestyle block with whanau and an array of pets. 

    As a Registered Nurse with over 20 years’ experience in mental health and addiction services. I am passionate about developing others and sharing my knowledge and skills gained through senior clinical, management and nurse education roles.   I am delighted by the opportunity to co facilitate MH101 workshops to equip people supporting those experiencing mental distress. 

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    Diana Rands


    Facilitator - MH101®

    I’ve been working in the addiction/mental health field since 1985, when I graduated as a social worker. My passion is social justice and working alongside people to support them to reach their full potential. I love what I do!

    I work half my time as an addictions clinician at Auckland’s Community Alcohol and Drug Services and the rest of the time I indulge my love of group facilitation and education. My specialist areas are addiction, mental health, communication, sexual orientation and gender identity, racial and sexual harassment prevention and human rights promotion.

    Participants often comment that although they may be discussing difficult topics, I can make it fun! My strengths include warmth and compassion.

    I’m also chair of the board of trustees for the Inner City Women’s Group (a family violence prevention and education programme), a member of the Auckland Council’s Rainbow Advisory Board and a volunteer for telephone counselling service for Rainbow Communities.

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    Edward Kitchin

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    My name is Edward Kitchin. I’m an Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) clinician with a passion for working alongside people living with addiction challenges.

    I've been working in the field since 2013, initially working alongside the criminal justice system, supporting those experiencing harms from substance use in Liverpool.

    Since moving to Aotearoa in 2010, I've again been drawn to the justice system, working across the prison network and later with youth populations. More recently I have been involved in programme design and implementation with Odyssey in Auckland.  

    I am excited to be co-facilitating Blueprint for Learning workshops as it provides another opportunity to educate about addiction and explore stigma and discrimination.

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    Edith Moore

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Kia Orana, I experience joy by supporting people who are struggling to empower themselves. Especially people with lived experience of mental distress or addiction.

    I have an MSc in Health Psychology and have previously lectured at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medicine in Pacific Health.  I currently work for DRIVE Consumer Direction Counties Manukau and The Recovery College NZ.

    I am a member of Nga Hau e Wha, Mana Pasefika and a founding member of the Drua Pasifika Consumer and Family Lived Experience Group. 

    I am a mother and a grandmother. Gaining my Nana credentials at the ripe old age of thirty-five. In my spare time I love to immerse myself in fantasy novels and hunt for treasures in op shops.  I look forward to meeting you. 

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    Emma Hunter

    Facilitator - MH101® and Addiction 101

    Having grown up in Dunedin as tauiwi, I have a strong connection to my tūrangawaewae of Te Wai Pounamu. I feel the sense of kaitiakitanga for this land in which I grew up. I love to connect with my environment by walking the many paths and treks the beautiful South has to offer with my much-loved dogs Buddy, a rescued Bull Mastiff and Ruby, a slightly greedy Labrador!

    A dedicated student, I currently study in the field of mental health and addiction. I believe in a culturally inclusive recovery framework that encourages individual choice, empowerment and self-management, enabling people to create new perspectives in shaping the way we see the world. I want to challenge barriers to promote inclusion and foster the experience of recovery for all. I am passionate about social justice and equitable outcomes, recognising that people come from different sets of circumstances.

    I also work in an Alcohol and Other Drug residential based programme here in Ōtepoti and as a facilitator of a mental health programme.

    I am delighted to be part of the Blueprint for Learning facilitator team, surrounded by such special tāngata who each bring their unique wisdom and knowledge to this important mahi. I believe knowledge is empowerment and one of the most powerful and inspiring motivators for those seeking wellness is to walk the path of those who have recovered. 

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    Erica Hodgson

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I have over 15 years’ experience in the field of mental health and wellbeing – in clinical work as an occupational therapist and in service development roles focusing on project management and quality improvement. I am passionate about improving the wellbeing of our communities and I now focus on governance work in health regulation and the mental health NGO sector.

    MH101 gives me the opportunity to share information that I know is evidence-based and really works, to reduce distress and support people when they first need it.

    I love hearing people's stories and their confidence at the end of the day that they too can make a difference.

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    Georgina Guild

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Kia ora koutou. I was born and raised in Melbourne with English and New Zealand heritage. I began working in the area of youth and family mental health in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2005 and have been privileged to hear stories of resilience and strength in this space in London and now Ōtautahi. Gaining this experience has also supported me in my own journey of wellbeing, as well as friends and whānau.

    I am proud to be involved in facilitating MH101® to support people to build their confidence and the skills they already have in the overall area of wellbeing.

    When not working, I enjoy spending time with my partner and our beloved terrier, as well as any activity involving the sea, and fostering bull breed dogs who are waiting for their forever home.

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    Graham Holman

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I have over 20 years’ experience as a mental health nurse in a variety of clinical and leadership roles working across the age spectrum. I have a strong interest in education and professional supervision. There is no health without mental health, so it is important for people to be able to access early, timely, and appropriate support in their own communities.

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    Grant Cooper

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I was born in Wellington and spent most of my life in Christchurch. I currently live in Dunedin with my wife and teenage son.

    I have worked in the field of mental health for the last 17 years.

    For the last seven years I have been the manager of an adult mental health service in Dunedin.

    I love being able to use my strengths to enhance New Zealanders’ wellbeing through my work as an MH101 facilitator

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Covid-19 Update

In-person workshops will resume in 2022 under all settings of the Covid-19 Protection Framework. All in-person workshop participants will need to show proof of vaccination or exemption through My Vaccine Pass. For anyone who cannot meet this requirement, online workshops are available and will continue to be offered.