Support Workers/Ngā Kaimahi Tautoko:
During their stay, or through our Outreach Programme, those we are working with are connected up with one of Support Team. Our Support Workers are volunteers who have a deep empathy and passion for the mahi of the Retreat, and give their time and compassion to being the Listening Ear that often makes all the difference. Our Support Workers are people just like you and me; trained, resourced; have walked the paths of suffering and want to make a life-saving difference for others.
Kia Ora Tatou
I am a volunteer support worker at Taranaki Retreat. I help Guests to unpack how they are feeling by being a great listener, and work alongside them on a positive path. I love what I do at the Retreat, as this is my most passionate role. My role at Taranaki Retreat also consists of Tikanga and Kawa Maori well-being to our guests, which we apply to everyone.
Ko Ruapehu Te Maunga
Ko Whanganui Te Awa
Ko Tamahaki te iwi
Ko kuruwhitia te hapu
Ko Aotea te waka
Ko Rochelle Taku ingoa
Meet a few more of our awesome support workers.
Tūtaki ki ētahi atu o ā mātou kaitautoko.
Taranaki Retreat is a Charitable Trust whose work is overseen by a volunteer Trust Board. This amazing team is composed of wise and caring people who "Sing the Song" of the Aims and Objectives of the Trust and Mission/Vision Statements of the Retreat and ensure that we stick to these with the right mix of creativity and safety. Our Trustees meet regularly, listen and reflect carefully and ask the right questions; understand and hugely value the work of the Retreat, and seek to strengthen and support it. They are responsible for ensuring the right policies and procedures are in place and that these are being adhered to; that the Trust cares for its Guests, Volunteers and Staff according to best practice; that Health and Safety is being attended to meticulously; that our financial stewardship is impeccable, and that our work is sustainable. They are our Governance Body, and we are indescribably grateful for the sacrifices that they make in order to make our mahi possible; not just when we meet as a Board, but through all that is quietly and carefully done behind the scenes.
Jamie and Suzy Allen
Kia ora! As well as being trustees for the Retreat, we are also part of the core staff. Click here to learn more.
A very warm welcome to the Taranaki Retreat website. I am LeAnne Blakelock, a chartered accountant and dairy farmer. I live in Inglewood with my partner Ian, our 20 year old foster son Jack and our 4 dogs.
We host for the international work away program and our house is usually a jumbling chaos of international guests, farm staff, family, friends coupled with loads of food and activity. I love to cook and believe that the best way to look after people is to create a home environment where they can feel a sense of belonging and care.
Having had my life touched by suicide and spent a great deal of time supporting family members and friends through mental health issues and personal crisis, it is a privilege to be able to offer my assistance in supporting such a wonderful cause as the Taranaki Retreat and helping others in my community.
Board Advisor/Kaitohutohu Poari
I was raised in a farming family from Maxwell and completed my education at Nelson College and Massey University where I gained a Bachelor of Business Studies (BBS) and a Diploma in Agriculture (DipAg) both with Distinction and with the award of Massey Scholar. I am also an Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA) and a Cost and Management Accountant (CMA). After a period farming and with Dalgety NZ as a Project Accountant, I joined the Asian Development Bank and worked in Solomon Islands, Philippines and Nepal. Returning to NZ, I joined Rural Bank as the Northern Area Manager. My later career includes CEO of Lakeland Health, the Human Rights Commission and Deputy CE of Unitec (NZ’s largest Polytech) before taking up the role of CE of WITT in New Plymouth. I am a Councillor with NPDC, on the TDHB and on a number of Trusts and other organisations. I am married to Virginia (Gini); we have three adult children and six grandchildren.
Kia ora. I believe that the Taranaki Retreat is of great benefit to our community by providing a refuge for people within our province when they are at their most vulnerable. There is currently no other facility in Taranaki which provides this level of residential support, at little or no cost.
In my previous role as Principal of Devon Intermediate, I have seen the impact of suicide. The effect is always far reaching so if this retreat could make a difference for even one family, the well being of the community will be enhanced.
Any initiative which supports individuals and whanau who are struggling with suicide, depression, grief or loss will benefit not only the people directly involved, but the community as a whole.
Haere mai! This is a wonderful place and I feel enormously privileged to be a part of the trust. I am Ruth Smithers and have lived and worked from here all my life. David (known as biggie from surfing days) and i have three adult children and we have a small business in Oakura. I bring experience and skills from a wide ranging background across health and social services, business development and change management. I completed an MBA with distinction and felt that gave me the impetus (and courage!) to branch out into consulting and executive roles. The contexts have ranged from nursing back in the day to business, in community, hospitals, DHB planning and funding, private business, consulting, and ngos, including, until recently, Deputy CE of Tui Ora. As well as Taranaki Retreat, i am a trustee with Arts Access Aotearoa and was a director with Worksafe NZ in 2017. I am excited to support the vision and mahi of the retreat, its
amazing staff and volunteers and, most importantly, the individuals and whānau it works with. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata.
Originally from Poland and with a career that has taken me all over the world, I am now proud to call Taranaki home. I am the CEO of Te Karaka Foundation, and I am also working in my own consulting business. My working life spans from Design Manager in Australia to Chief Executive Officer in New Zealand and Regional Director in Europe working for large multinational companies and privately owned businesses.
I wanted to support and join the Team at the Taranaki Retreat from the time I read of this beautiful mission to help the vulnerable people in our region. The team at the heart of this mahi have empowered the whole Taranaki community to build the Retreat and to create the Safe Space for people to deal with the trauma or loss they are going through and offer them help to see the positive change for their future.
The wellbeing of others and helping people in need has always been one of my highest priorities and concerns. I am very grateful to work with Jamie, Suzy, the Trust Board and Team of Taranaki Retreat on helping people before things get worse and making a difference in their lives. We are all on the mission to try and to stop people from taking their own lives.
I believe that only by working together we can prevent the families, friends and our community being devastated by the loss of a loved one to suicide and that everyone has a role to play in reducing suicide and supporting those affected.
I feel privileged to be able to offer my support to such a great cause as the Taranaki Retreat and helping people when they are most vulnerable in whatever way I can.
Board Advisor/Kaitohutohu Poari
Kia ora. I’m Richard Williams. I’m a husband to Michelle and father to a beautiful 7 year old son. I feel blessed to be able to support the work of the Retreat.
As well as the day to day respite provided by the Retreat to its guests, I feel an equally important aspect of the Retreat’s mahi is the creation of a platform for our community to come together to ensure a better future for Taranaki and Aotearoa. By raising awareness that there are people in desperate need of help, the Retreat is uniting the community together to be part of the creation of a sustainable future, where everyone can be part of the solution.
Our family values of kindness and empathy draws us naturally to the work of the Retreat. Our family’s focus on raising positive, powerful children and building resilience in our community’s tamariki, aligns closely with the Retreat’s vision.
Ultimately the long term solution is for the Community as a whole to take ownership and care of all of its people and the Retreat is creating the framework for this to happen. To be part of that journey is a real privilege.