Mana Ake - Stronger for Tomorrow

  • About
  • Background
  • Karakia

Mana Ake - Stronger for Tomorrow provides support for children aged five to 12 years old across Canterbury.

Mana Ake kaimahi work with schools to support teachers, families and whānau when children are experiencing ongoing issues that impact their wellbeing such as anxiety, social isolation, parental separation, grief and loss and managing emotions.

Kaimahi have a diverse range of skills and include psychologists, social workers, counsellors, teachers and youth workers. Kaimahi can work with individual children and their families at school, in the community or at home and with groups of children in schools. They provide advice, guidance and support for teachers and family/ whānau.

Mana Ake is now available to children in schools across Canterbury. Talk to your child's teacher, or a member of the school staff, to check if Mana Ake is the right service to support your child. If your child does not currently attend a school, you can request support directly from Mana Ake via

There are three key elements of the Mana Ake initiative – additional FTE, changing the way we work and the web-based Leading Lights tool.



Kaimahi are employed directly by 13 non-government organisations (NGOs) who make up the provider network. They operate as a virtual team and are flexible to quickly respond to the needs of a child as wellbeing concerns arise.

Changing the way we work

Mana Ake, alongside the Learning Support delivery approach, promotes collaboration to enable clusters of schools, kura and early childhood education (ECE) to work with support services ensuring that resources are targeted most effectively to those who need them.

Mana Ake works with and through school communities by complementing and enhancing existing pastoral care support to intervene early means we can stop some children’s needs escalating.

Leading Lights

Leading Lights is a website designed specifically for teachers and education professionals which helps them to identify children with specific health, learning or wellbeing needs and provide ideas and strategies of about how these children are best supported within schools.

Guidance includes recognising and responding to a child’s mental and physical health, behavioural or learning needs; advice and resources for supporting individual children, the class, the family/whānau, and support agencies; and how to request specialist and support services in the local education and health systems.

  • Mana Ake karakia read by Karaitiana Tickell

    E atawhai ana mātou

    Te whakatōkia o ngā kakano i ruia mai

    E nga māhuri tōtara e tipu ana mō āpōpō.

    Nā tātou katoa hei awhi te kaupapa,

    Hei mana ake te tū tauira tonu ai.

    Haumi ē, Hui ē, Tāiki ē.


    We nurture and protect

    the seeds sown near and far,

    so that they may grow into mighty totara for a not so distant tomorrow.

    We embrace our responsibility,

    To encourage students on a path of lifelong learning.

    Unified, Together, Strong.

Latest news

Mana Ake team featured in Star Media video

Members of the Mana Ake team spoke with Star Media about the coordinated, collaborative response to the terror attack on 15 March and offered some tips for parents and teachers.

Clare Shepherd, Mana Ake Project Lead outlined the role Mana Ake had in responding to the event: “We put together a crisis response for monitoring, checking in and coordinating Mana Ake support to schools. We looked at where there may be gaps in information and where we could strengthen our information for teachers, which included a focus on teacher wellbeing,” she said.

“Parents and teachers need to look after themselves and really focus on how they manage and promote their own wellbeing, because that becomes a model for younger children. We know that adults, particularly in younger children’s lives, are a huge moderator of children’s emotions. So the better parents and teachers are doing, the better the wellbeing of our children is.”  

Fiona Wells, Mana Ake Team Leader, talked about the range of emotional responses that are normal after a traumatic event, and emphasised the importance of naming and validating those emotions. “After stressful or unsettling events it is normal for both parents and children to experience a whole range of emotional responses,” she said.

“Parents can help manage this by taking notice of and naming the feelings they see, saying things like ‘you seem upset today’ or ‘you seem a bit tired,’ and reassuring children that it’s okay to feel whatever they are feeling, that it’s normal after what we’ve been through.

“Parents can support children to feel calm by promoting a calm environment in the home and reassure children by being consistent with routines. Finding opportunities to connect as a family can help, getting outside, playing, or eating a meal together.

“When we are tired and stressed it is harder to invest time and energy into looking after ourselves, but this is important so we can provide care for our tamariki.”

The team has been collating information to share with teachers and parents, including the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give.

Watch the full Star Media video featuring interviews from Fiona and Clare here.

Mana Ake map - cluster skills/ contacts

Project Lead

Clare Shepherd


P:  021 549 875

Project Team

Murray Roberts


Desiree Ettmuller


P:  022 073 2461

Caralyn Purvis


Team Leaders

Maria Lui - 021 332 048

Joel Brittenden - 020 4177 0038

Kate Walkinshaw - 027 886 5780

Malcolm Gooch - 027 270 6733

Liz Riley - 021 316 960

Antoinette Lewis - 027 275 4229

Fiona Wells - 022 060 6653

Sandra Keenan - 021 128 4820

Media enquiries

Elly Edwards


P:  021 683 728