Who We Are

Our Vision

  • To build resilient children and young people today.

  • Kaumatuaship supports and guides Health Connections cultural competence and responsiveness.

  • Better outcomes are what we about.

Our Purpose

To deliver child and youth specialty enhanced primary care services in non-health environments including education placements, Oranga Tamariki placements and temporary home placements.

Our Values

Hope    Family   Openness   Purpose   Humour   Health

Our Team


Pat Mitchell, CEO

What a privilege to be part of improved outcomes for children and young people.
My nursing background has lent itself to serving children, young people, their families and communities for over 20 years and now as CEO of Health Connections – it feels like that career path was always to be destined to arrive here.
Working differently, knowing what we do today may need to change tomorrow is why my role as CEO is challenging, exciting, and keeps Health Connections at the forefront of delivering better outcomes for children and young people.
My passion for outcomes, exploring alternatives to the traditional and striving for change makes life interesting. In an ever changing healthcare landscape it is key for services to know that change is fundamental part of health care delivery and having the agility and flexibility to respond to what is needed is the driving force behind Health Connections and what I lead on.
I believe nurses are leaders, nurses are brave, nurses seek opportunities and achieve. I’m a proud nurse.

Maria Kekus, Clinical Director

Health Connections comprises of an amazing team that is making a difference for children and young people in Aotearoa.  As Clinical Director at Health Connections, I am able to put over 30 years’ experience of working in primary health care into leading the clinical team and contributing to the strategic direction of Health Connections.
The Health Connections model of practice allows for flexibility to respond to the ever-changing health needs of the population we work with and my specialism is in the development, implementation and leadership of quality clinical services within the organisation.
As a Nurse Practitioner I am passionate about developing the nursing workforce both within the Health Connections team and wider. Since 2012 I have been an Honorary Lecturer in advanced clinical practice for nurses at Auckland University and since 2018 contributed to the prescribing paper for Registered Nurses at Massey University.
Carol Scholes Photo

Carol Scholes, Board Chair

We are privileged to have Carol Scholes as Chair of our Board. Carol has over 30 years of management experience working in commercial and not-for-profit organisations both in New Zealand and Australia. Her expertise encompasses governance, finance, HR, marketing, training and administration management in Defence, the superannuation industry, and eight years in CEO roles in not for profit organisations with a focus on adult education and community service provision. How lucky are we to have such amazing governance leadership taking Health Connections onward and upwards. It can only mean better outcomes for even more children and young people.

Rawiri Wharemate, Kaumatua

Rāwiri is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Tainui, Ngāti Pūkenga descent. Rawiri provides the Kaumātuaship for Health Connections. Rawiri has extensive experience in the Child and Youth Mental Health field. Under the guidance of Rawiri, Health Connections ensures all their work embraces the principles and values of the Tiritiō Waitangi and Whānau Ora.
Jess Tiplady photo_preview


Youth Health Specialist


Practice Manager


Registered Nurse


Registered Nurse


Registered Nurse


Stacey Porter

Cultural Advisor

Chrissie Lander Photo_preview


Clinical Administrator



What are people saying about Health Connections?

  • Really enjoyed the training and new learning. Great Course and very relevant content; really enjoyed the role modelling activity – Awesome!
    Introduction to HEEADSSS course participant
  • Great course, opens up and challenges thinking, questioning process when working with adolescence; a very good course. Thank you. Informative, encouraging and thought provoking.
    Introduction to HEEADSSS Course Participant
    School nurse
  • It was a honour and pleasure to have you guys come out and share your wisdom thank you so much
    Robson Alualu Tavita
    Chief Executive for the Tuilaepa Youth Mentoring Service (TYMS)
  • Just needed to tell you that this stuff (oars and dares) is transformational. I've tried my first forays with adults (obesity and alcohol) and even with a couple of young people.
    Specialist Consultant
  • Many thanks for presenting at the Goodfellow Symposium. We were thrilled by the attendance, the atmosphere and the quality of presentations. Once again I appreciate your contribution to the success of the symposium.
    Professor Bruce Arroll
    Director - Goodfellow Unit
  • Thank you Maria, Pat and team at Health Connections for the workshop you provided for our nurses (and one GP) in Christchurch. As a Team Leader I was very impressed by the quality of your processes right from the beginning of the negotiation for us contracting your service to the presentation. I appreciated the detailed programme ideas combined with the ability to “flex” to our specific goals and geographical setting. Sitting beside one of our local GP’s during some of the workshop it was great to hear her praise of your teaching frameworks as well. Your presentation was very well constructed with great prompts to remind us of previous learning – dusting off a few cobwebs but yet ensuring we had a solid base to incorporate new knowledge. In my role as Team Leader it was great to know my team were all on the same page with a secure foundational knowledge base and yet inspired for the next level. As a team we have been inspired to make better use of our HEADSSS assessments - increased confidence to use Brief Intervention and formulate more effective Youth and Whanau centred health plans. Your evidenced based presentation has also inspired a new level of hunger for up-to-date researched clinical practice for my team – all but one (who near retirement felt she had an excuse clause) have begun the process of doing their PDRP and are encouraging other locally employed school nurses also. Many also on the team are looking at semester two next year as a group to apply for post graduate study, even two looking at Nursing Practitioner level. When you consider the costs of investing in professional development and I now look at the ongoing benefits it has certainly paid dividends beyond expectations. Also wanted to make special mention of Maria, her exceptional knowledge base and ability to give examples from her practice and encourage the learner to reflect on their own practice was invaluable. Maria has also provided post workshop support with resources for our team which again has been fantastic. Have really appreciated being connected to the team at Health Connections and feel connected literally to a new support network in itself because of the knowledgeable and passionate team they are. Thank you Vivienne Neilson Team Leader School Based Nursing Nurse Maude Christchurch
    Vivienne Neilson
    Nurse Maude