The Real Parents crew

Anna Mowat
Anna Mowat

Anna is the Director of Real Parents. She has a background in English and psychology, but at her best when she's working creatively. Her long list of projects include:

  • creatively leading and writing content for the schools-based wellbeing initiative, Manahau.
  • as the families and child advisor for the All Right?
  • creating the predominant content and project leading Sparklers,
  • co-designing and writing the content for the  Kākano app project as part of a research project led by the University of Auckland),
  • being a trainer for the cool team at New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, and
  • and especially working alongside parents as a facilitator of Incredible Years and as a parent coach.

Anna is also a mum and currently working on developing a growth mindset around her skiing. Not easy when her two children are so keen to tell her how terrible she is at it…(sigh!)

Kate Jones
Kate Jones

Kate has a deep empathy for parents and children, especially when things have been tough for them. This is probably because she:

  • is an experienced and super-skilled social worker,
  • has a background supporting women and children after family harm has occurred,
  • adaptably works across school and home environments - wherever the need is, and
  • is a terrific and friendly person who people enjoy working with.

For downtime, Kate spends time with her daughter hangs out with family and friends and drinks hot coffee - sometime all at once!

Emma Chapman
Emma Chapman

Not much fazes Emma. Probably because she knows what she’s she’s doing! This is because she:

  • is a child psychologist,
  • works across loads of organisations who support kids during tricky times such as CDHB, Oranga Tamariki and Youth Justice, and
  • is overly trained in group (and great) programmes such as Incredible Years, Tuning into Kids, Circle of Security and Parenting Through Separation.

To add to this, she’s a Mum of two kids who she says teach her more than her all her professional training and experience - so that must be loads!

Dr Dean Sutherland
Dr Dean Sutherland

Dean’s big deal is all things communication. He walks this talk (hehe!) by:

  • being a real-live speech-language therapist,
  • talking endlessly about it as a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury,
  • facilitating Incredible Years and specifically tailored workshops to support parents to connect with their kids through the gentle art of communication.

Dean has also accumulated over 20 years of experience as a communicating parent to 3 children.

Meg Fisher
Meg Fisher

We think Meg is the child whisperer of the team - she ‘gets’ kids. Her fantastic experience and education totally add to her skill base because of her:

  • background in psychology and a keen interest in mental health and wellbeing,
  • teacher training and working in amazing places in the world - most recently Dubai,
  • co-designing and writing for Manahau, a school wellbeing initiative led by Real Collective - another part of our Real Parents mahi,
  • working as an advisor and social content writer across Sparklers with Anna,
  • combining this means Meg feels right at home practicing mindfulness with children and focussing on building resilience.

Meg is super outdoorsy - another real strength of hers. If she’s not just generally encouraging kids, she’s rocking out with adventure sports or surf lifesaving.

Anna Cooper
Anna Cooper

Anna is great with kids who have some ‘complexities’ in their worlds, like challenging behaviours, trauma and/or mental health challenges. She’s amazing at this work because of her cool and calm approach, but also because of:

  • being a trained Child and Family Psychologist,
  • currently working with Child Development Service (CDHB) and previously with the Ministry of Education and Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CDHB),
  • her ability and agility to combine her work in clinical practice with group work facilitation - she’s a fab Incredible Years go-to!

She has some big roles for sure and takes her time out by cooking, gardening, parenting walking Ollie (her dog) and skiing (not with Ollie her dog!)

Melissa McDonnell
Melissa McDonnell

Melissa is a full-time juggler. She balances her time between being a mum to 4 daughters, doing stuff at home & at school, and managing to sneak in a bit of work when she can. She contributes to the Real Parents team by doing a little bit of everything, and because she: 

  • loves learning, exploring and taking on new challenges,
  • used to do lawyer stuff, and still holds onto that natural curiosity of getting to know and understand people, and
  • completed a post-grad in journalism in 2009, and has been dabbling in the field of communications and marketing ever since. 

Melissa owns Monday Creative her space to support businesses with communications, especially social media. And when she's not doing that, she enjoys getting out in the hills for a good walk and natter with her mates; catching a movie; dancing with her kids, and as many minutes on the shakti or yoga mat as she can.

Felicity Morton-Turner
Felicity Morton-Turner

Felicity is one of our Incredible Years facilitators and popular parent coach, and that's not all! Felicity spends a lot of her time:

  • as a school teacher, and working with the primary school and Early Childhood Education community;
  • supporting kids with their transition to school (it’s a big passion for her); and
  • developing her PhD, which focusses on early literacy development.

Felicity is also a mum, keen runner and traveller (when she is able to!).

Bruce Hiku
Bruce Hiku

Bruce is a highly-skilled and valued member of the Real Parents' team has worked and trained in many areas, including residential work and groups such as: 

  • The Friends Programme
  • Parenting Through Separation
  • Circle of Security
  • Tuning Into Kids, and
  • Footsteps to Feeling Safe - a Ministry of Justice domestic violence programme to support children. 

Bruce is passionate about his work with young people and their families and is often found spending time with his furbaby and many nieces, nephews and moko. 

Garyn (Jiahui) Feng
Garyn (Jiahui) Feng

Garyn has a background in teaching and has a passion for:

  • supporting Chinese parents adopt and adapt to New Zealand family styles;
  • integrating these families into the school system, while still keeping Chinese culture strong - this is her deep passion; and
  • working as one of our Incredible Years facilitators, offering these programmes in both English and Chinese.

Garyn is a Mum to 2 girls - her absolute inspiration.

Brian Gainsford
Brian Gainsford

Brian is our Real Parents admin go-to. He fixes all the problems (technical and otherwise) that no-one else can! He's also a Dad to four kids and:

  • has a background as an education tutor;
  • has been involved with foster caring; and
  • has succeeded in a number of managerial roles.

Brian spends some of his week working from home (in Geraldine!) and his greatest strengths are his humour and being completely unflappable (trust us, we’ve tested his patience enough to know that!).

Hollie Griffin
Hollie Griffin

Holly has a Masters degree in Political Science, and an extensive work history with a big focus on advocating for and the care of people, including:

  • working closely with refugee families, and supporting them to settle into life in New Zealand; 
  • working for the Red Cross in New Zealand, Fiji and Bangladesh, and supporting communities to recover from the effects of natural disasters and conflict.
  • training people on how to promote wellbeing and provide psychosocial support to others following traumatic events.

When not working with Real Parents, Holly has a key role with one our favourite organisations In-Common. When she is not working, she loves hanging out with her son, traveling (when she can!), eating and relaxing in green spaces.

Kim Wall
Kim Wall

Kim is our super bubbly advisor on all things early child educational and is our Ashburton and Selwyn Incredible Years facilitator.

  • She is a skilled and trained teacher and educator, ECE centre manager, Kahui Ako Hakatere secretary and cares about parents and kids hugely.
  • Kim is born to network and has extensive contacts in her community - not to mention that she is incredibly community-minded.
  • Kim is also a dedicated Mum and the most approachable person we know!
Alissa Jardine
Alissa Jardine

It’s really clear Alissa loves working with kids, training people who are working with kids and only ever wants the best for kids.

  • Alissa is a super experienced educator working across early interventions, professional learning development and has a real passion for special needs education and tamariki neuroscience, educational psychology and emotional and behavioural development.
  • As well as this she facilitates Triple P Parenting and Tuning into Kids and loves a good bit of research on guess what?! -  Children’s wellbeing and development!
  • She’s great to be around, wonderfully positive and a dedicated Mum.