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 Website Image

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 Website Image

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, 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 Website Image


Youth Health Specialist

Tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Jessica ahau.

Jess graduated top of her class from Auckland University Nursing school in 2010 and has worked in primary health care for 9 years, in a General Practice setting.  She is in her third year as a Nurse Practitioner in primary health and was one of the youngest in New Zealand to achieve Nurse Practitioner status in 2016.  She was awarded Young Nurse of the Year from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation 2017.  As the Youth Health Specialist at Health Connections Jess provides the clinical leadership to ensure all rangatahi have access to health often in non-health settings like schools and residential settings.  Jess is an Intern Director for Health Connections building her governance skills to further improve outcomes for children and young people.  She has spent time as an academic mentor within Massey Universities Nurse Practitioner Training Programme.  Her passions within work include mental health, youth health and improving sexual health access and to this end she has completed the Mental Health Credentialing program 2017 and worked extensively in the area of youth health.  Outside of work she enjoys returning home to Tauranga to spend time with whānau, her husband and dog, and being at the beach.

Erin Website Image


Practice Manager

A Maori descendant of Ngati Kahungunu, Erin is the Practice Manager for Health Connections working to improve the outcomes of rangatahi in the Auckland area.

Born and raised in South Auckland, Erin was a young mother of three children. It was always Erin’s ambition to demonstrate good qualities and work ethics for her children to adopt in their adult lives.

Beginning her career as a medical receptionist in 2000, Erin quickly progressed to Practice Manager in 2001 for a combined GP and A&M clinic.  Other than 12 months living in Christchurch, Erin worked predominantly in South Auckland, undertaking various practice coordinator roles.  Working with such diverse communities, Erin is passionate about acknowledging and caring for the different cultures she encounters.

Commencing the role with Health Connections as their very first Practice Manager in February 2019, Erin provides support to clinical & administration staff, coordinating the day-to-day operations and service delivery for clients and their stakeholders.  Developing and maintaining good working relationships is paramount to her role.  Erin is a skilled problem solver and enjoys thinking innovatively; giving a different perspective with an administrative lens when developing processes and guidelines with the clinical team.

Outside of work, Erin balances a busy whanau life filled with the love and support of her partner, three children and two beautiful mokopuna.

Ferin Website Image


Registered Nurse

“Bula! Born and raised in Fiji, I migrated to New Zealand in 2004.  I completed my Bachelor of Nursing at MIT where I graduated in 2012.

My passion is primary care in youth health and quality improvement.  I love the challenge of organising specific clinics for our vulnerable young people in the community.

Prior to Health Connections, I worked at Kids First in the Medical, Surgical and Neonatal Intensive Care wards for 6 years as a RN and the Shift Coordinator.

My interests outside of work is managing a youth soccer team and spending quality time with my husband and child.

Renee Website Image


Registered Nurse

Kia Ora, my name is Renee.
I was born and raised in south Auckland where I lived with 3 of my 7 siblings. The rest of my family are mostly up north in Whangarei and Kerikeri, so those are some of the places I like to visit in my spare time, as well as the Coromandel.  I love the beach and enjoy cooking.
I graduated from the Waikato Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the end of 2016, and from AUT with a post graduate certificate in child health in 2018.  I have a background in acute paediatric surgical nursing. I have a passion for child and youth health, educating others and providing nursing care that is family centred.


Registered Nurse

My name is Sailau Lote-Onosemu and I have been a registered nurse for almost nine years. I graduated from Auckland University of Technology in 2011 with my nursing degree and completed my Post-Grad certificate in 2012.
I have worked in a wide range of places within the health sector as a nurse and have found that with every place I have worked, I have been able to grow and expand my skill, knowledge and network base.
I love the practical side of nursing and dealing with patients/clients daily.
Seeing health outcomes and goals being reached and achieved is one of my main motivators in helping my community, especially my Pasifika community.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, playing sport, travelling and having a good ol laugh.


Registered Nurse

My name is Angela Moananu.  I am full Samoan but have grown up in South Auckland my whole life.  I have been nursing for 4 years and have found a special interest in young people, and Maori/Pacific health.  My goal for healthcare in NZ is for it to understand that not everyone has the same opportunity to access healthcare, and that not everyone views health the same way.  My goal as a nurse is to be able to breakdown barriers that hold people back from the quality of healthcare they deserve.


Stacey Porter

Cultural Advisor

Stacey descends from Ngai Takoto, Ngāti Kahu and Ngāpuhi in the far north, and Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maru on the east coast. Stacey has a background in kaupapa māori models and extensive experience in Māori mental health and workforce development, Māori policy, Māori education and community legal needs.

With the support of our Kaumātua, Stacey brings passion for structure and critical analysis of indigenous needs and western concepts to ensure the Health Connections team can develop sustainable, authentic best practices that will benefit the needs of mokopuna. Mauri ora!

Chrissie Lander Photo_preview


Clinical Administrator

Hi my name is Chrissie and I have been part of the Health Connections team for almost two years.  While most of my day-to-day role is behind the scenes, supporting our clinical staff, I am committed to bringing all of my skills to the team effort to ensure the young people within our care achieve the best possible outcomes.

Outside of my role at Health Connections I enjoy spending time with my family, developing my culinary skills and encouraging those around me to live a life of purpose, integrity and passion.

Basic RGB

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