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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    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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    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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    Carlotta Dann

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Lotta has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over eight years.

    She is the community manager and content creator at and the author of two books on addiction, with a third due for publication in mid-2020.

    Lotta loves facilitating Addiction 101 for the opportunity it provides to have real and honest conversations about what's going on in our communities, and for the wealth of knowledge that gets passed around during each workshop.


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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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    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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    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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    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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    Haley Jacobs

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Haley is one of our facilitators for Addiction 101.

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    Janet Colby

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    My name is Janet Colby. I’m an AOD clinician. I have a passion for working alongside people who have been affected by addiction.

    I started work in the field in 1982 at the Auckland Drug Dependency clinic and helped set up Higher Ground Drug Rehabilitation Trust in 1983 and am still involved today.

    For the last few years I have been facilitating different groups for clients and affected others at the CADs Abstinence programme.

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

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    Jason Haitana

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Kia ora, my name is Jason. My story of trauma and abuse isn’t unique, which is sad. But in the struggle that my life has been, I have earned the wisdom to share my insights.

    This is my tribal saying, which connects me through the central North Island, southwest along the Whanganui river:

    The river flows

    From the mountains to the sea

    I am the river

    The river is me.

    I currently work in mental health in Northland and I truly treasure my experiences, as they have made me who I am.

    He kākano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiātea

    I am a seed which was sewn in the heavens of Rangiātea. I will never die.

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    Jillian Fordyce

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I feel privileged to be part of the Blueprint for Learning team and working with such wise people. MH101 is a unique workshop that I am very proud to have been associated with for the last ten years. My many years of clinical experience, from working in a variety of roles across the health system, enables me to share those experiences in a positive manner.

    Facilitating change for people can be life altering. I enjoy gently challenging the myths around illness and promoting wellbeing. I get heaps out of the workshops too, as we meet different people all over the country.

    As a semi-retired farmer I have a strong interest in rural health challenges and taking these workshops to rural groups is a great opportunity to facilitate change.

    It’s great that we go to regions and areas that often don’t get the opportunity to attend training and address significant needs. This is an incredible journey for all of us.

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    Juliana Korzon

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I am a registered nurse with practitioner experience in mental health, addiction and disability settings in both New Zealand/Aotearoa and the United Kingdom. I also have over a decade of experience delivering adult education.

    I’m committed to supporting learners to advance their understanding of mental health and addiction for themselves, their loved ones and their communities.

    I’m of English and Polish descent. I live in Wellington with my partner and when I’m not at work I can often be found wandering the beaches and hills of the Miramar peninsular with my dogs.

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    Katherine Owen

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I am a registered comprehensive nurse with 25 years’ experience working in the mental health and addiction sector both in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom.

    I currently work in nursing education, developing the next generation of mental health nurses.

    I’m passionate about supporting the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and organisations through community development and user-driven services. What I enjoy most about being an MH101 facilitator is meeting our amazing participants who bring empathy, compassion and the desire to make a difference in their own communities.

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    Katie Siueva

    Facilitator - MH101®

    There is something significant that happens when people come together in one of our workshops with the intention to understand an issue at a deeper level.

    I really enjoy being a part of this kaupapa; that we are investing time in meaningful conversations about health and wellbeing and learning how to better support ourselves and those around us. 

    When I'm not facilitating you can find me drinking too much coffee, walking near the beach or bush, listening to podcasts and spending time with whānau."


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    Kimberly Bignell

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I've worked in the mental health sector in a variety of both clinical and peer roles over the last 12 years. MH101 is a workshop I feel proud to facilitate. It’s an incredibly respectful workshop that honours both the experience of mental distress and the experience of those in supporting roles – and that’s all of us!

    Most of my clinical work has been focused on children, young people and their families, as well as working alongside family members of those experiencing mental illness/distress.

    Alongside my colleagues, I try to approach a serious topic with a little lightness and a touch of humour.

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     Kirsty Pillay-Hansen

    Kirsty Pillay-Hansen

    Facilitator - MH101

    Kia ora. I am proud to call beautiful sunny Tutukaka in Northland home and live in a pretty special place surrounded by native bush, tūi, kereru, gannets and the sea with my husband and our two sons.

    I'm South African-Indian and Pākeha and my husband is Māori-Chinese-Pākeha and I love working with people from diverse backgrounds.

    I am trained with an MA in psychology and my work background is in programme, training and facilitation roles in youth and community development, hauora and health promotion, mental health, mentoring and leadership development.

    My passion is adult training and education and working with groups of like-minded people to facilitate inclusive and safe spaces. Alongside this work with MH101, I provide supervision to youth workers across Northland and carry out research and programme development for the University of Auckland.

    I love being involved in my kids' school and our community and also time to myself, hanging out in nature, swimming in the sea, and spending time on my yoga mat.


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Maintain your wellbeing

Even good change can cause stress and anxiety. It's okay if you're feeling mixed emotions about New Zealand's move to Level 1. Blueprint for Learning's new webinar Stress, Resilience and Wellbeing can help you with strategies to manage these feelings and your overall wellbeing.