2020 LifeKeepers Award recipients

The LifeKeepers Awards are designed to recognise the often heroic but unacknowledged commitment of individuals and organisations who persevere with efforts and work which make a vital contribution to suicide prevention; these are ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things – creating communities of C.A.R.E to prevent suicide.   

In light of COVID-19 and our commitment to keeping communities safe, we will not be hosting an in-person event or selecting an overall Supreme Winner BUT with the support of Suicide Prevention Coordinators across the country we have found this year’s LifeKeepers Awards recipients!

Petina Stone

Project Manager at Nga Parirau Mātauranga, Project Coordinator for Rau Ora
Nominated by Northland DHB

Petina is the proud mother of eight children and 21 mokopuna with more to come.  Petina has worked as a kaiako Māori in Kohanga Reo, Kura Aoraki, Kura Māori and as an Education Manager for her iwi.  Petina has provided support & leadership to her whānau and wider community of Whangaruru for many years under the kaupapa of youth suicide prevention.  

Petina has a particular heart for taitamariki and has been working tirelessly to support and develop future leaders of Ngātiwai, Whangaruru.  Her suicide prevention project is called “Rau Ora”, a name which means “to save a life” and is based on the ‘Pa Harakeke’ model where every leaf contributes to the life of the Pa.  The Rau Ora team provide support and guidance for whānau who have lost their loved ones to suicide.  Rau Ora focuses on growing potential through tikanga Māori and sports, building resilience and developing strong future leaders, ultimately growing capacity within the Whangaruru community.

Amanda Christian

Clinical Advisor Community Postvention Response Service (CPRS) at CASA
Nominated by Auckland DHB

Amanda is a New Zealand trained Registered Educational Psychologist and a member of the NZ Psychological Society.  She is a member of the Waitematā and Auckland DHB suicide prevention governance group and of the Mental Health Foundation Lived Experience Advisory group.  She is also a clinical advisor for CASA as a part of their Community Postvention Response Services (CPRS) and has worked tirelessly within ADHB and WDHB to provide support for and reduce risks to community when there is a potential of suicide contagion. 

Her heart for this work is enormous and has developed from her own personal lived experience of bereavement by suicide.  Amanda is driven to show that it is possible have a meaningful life again after losing a loved one to suicide, and she is passionate about how the collective of lived experience can inform the future of suicide prevention.

Tina Jones

Counsellor, MNZCCA at Youth In Transition
Nominated by Waitemata DHB

Tina is a registered counselling practitioner who has many years of experience in working with crisis and trauma, through Victim Support, the New Zealand Police, Home and Family counselling (as a youth life skills facilitator), MIOMO (Making It On My Own - a 10 day residential programme helping to equip 17 - 24 year olds with life & work skills), the Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre, and Waitemata DHB.  Tina has focussed her work in the suicide prevention space on supporting young people, and co-founded Youth in Transition in 2014, with the goal of improving the wellbeing and mental health of young people and helping them get back into a life worth living.  Tina and the team at Youth in Transition have supported hundreds of young people over the years, alongside their families, caregivers and friends.  Tina is a mother of three daughters aged 18, 21, and 23 whose lives have also been affected by the loss of friends to suicide.   

Aotea Maipi

Founder, Y Suicide
Nominated by Waikato DHB

Aotea is a mother of four, grandmother to eleven and great grandmother to two beautiful mokopuna. She was born in Rahuipokeka and became interested in suicide prevention after some suicide losses happened in the local community.

Aotea, alongside other members of the North Waikato community, formed “Y Suicide” in 2011.  She and members of her group provide crisis support, support for individuals and their whānau when they are experiencing emotional distress, and information on suicide prevention through marae and other community-based places.  Aotea is very careful to ensure that Y Suicide operates in a safe manner and ensures that no harm can come from their work.  Y Suicide has widened its network from North Waikato to the entire Waikato District and beyond.  This has been achieved by working with others who have the same vision.  Aotea recognises the importance of factors such as poverty, housing, and employment in suicide prevention and has worked tirelessly to redress some of the issues related to these that many of the North Waikato community members were facing. 

Jane Tylee

Tararua Coordinator with East Coast Rural Support Trust
Nominated by Mid Central DHB

A sheep and beef farmer from Makuri, east of Pahiatua, Jane Tylee has been the Tararua District's Coordinator for the East Coast Rural Support Trust for the past 4 years, providing free support for the Rural Community by supporting wellbeing and wellbeing events, conducting farm visits as required, triaging, liaising and linking clients to local rural service providers as well as health care providers.  Jane is well aware of the stresses related to farming in high rainfall areas and drought prone areas and shows enormous empathy for the community she supports.  Jane is also a member of the Tararua Suicide ​P​revention/​P​ostvention ​R​esponse ​Team ​with​ Mid-Central DHB​​.  Jane brings first-hand rural experience and knowledge to this team, supporting them to more effectively meet the needs of the local community.  Jane Tylee is also a current board member of “The Trust” Tararua, who provides social and support services to the Tararua District. 

Jamie Allen

Executive Officer and Co-founder of Taranaki Retreat
Nominated by Taranaki DHB

Jamie Allen is a unique and extra-ordinary healer, mentor, leader, and educator.  Jamie and his team at Taranaki Retreat offer a range of holistic residential and outreach suicide prevention and postvention programmes to avoid loss of life and tackle suicidal distress, and to address the aggravating factors that commonly lead to suicide and cause harm.  The services provided at the Retreat are unique and highly regarded nationally, and Jamie and his team are working long-term with well over 1,000 at-risk whānau per year.  The Retreat offers a comprehensive kete of outreach and residential supports through an incredible trained and supervised peer-support team.  Tāngata whaiora can engage with Kaumātua, Social Work Staff, a grief specialist, get involved in hands-on creative work, receive Life Coaching, take part in Grief Support Groups, and heaps more!  Jamie is married to Suzy, and is a Dad of four awesome tamariki, who he loves with all his heart.  He is inspired to do what he does by the presence of his daughter Carrie, who he lost to cancer in 2012. 

Sarah Donaldson

Wellbeing Coordinator with East Coast Rural Support Trust 
Nominated by Wairarapa DHB

Sarah is an experienced Clinical Psychologist, the Wellbeing Coordinator for the East Coast Rural Support Trust (ECRST), and runs Tea Health & Wellbeing Consultants Ltd.  She lives on a sheep and beef farm in South Wairarapa with her three children and is passionate about supporting the rural community and in particular the health needs of farmers and their families.  Sarah works hard to support individuals and families living rurally, providing mental health support that is a good fit for them and that takes into account farming culture, operations and pressure.  Sarah is also a keen event organiser and has provided excellent events to the local rural community to provide connectedness and raise awareness around good mental health and wellbeing.  In addition to this, Sarah provides training to farm discussion groups and rural professionals, alongside consultation and content to Farmstrong, the DHB, MPI and media regarding rural health and suicide prevention.  Sarah still enjoys working part time casually on local farms, hunting, playing various sports and coaching rugby. 

Ragne Maxwell

Principal of Porirua College (on behalf of the Porirua Community)
Nominated by Hutt Valley DHB

As principal of Porirua College, Ragne, along with representatives of Aotea College, Mana College, Bishop Viard College, Challenge 2000 and a number of other groups led an effective local response to a cluster of suspected youth suicides in 2018. Ragne highlighted that the region’s young people were under immense pressure following the deaths and advocated for support services that were “right for them”. 

A huge amount of collaboration took place as the DHB funded additional counselling and secondary schools, Pacific, Māori, Councils, Government Departments, Police, Regional Public Health, CASA, Mental Health and Addictions Services and NGOs all rallied together to work on postvention supports and prevention activities.  In particular, the kanohi ki te kanohi (K2K) team at Porirua College led their front-line response to support young people, staff and wider community, built on strong foundations of trust and support.

Many positive changes have occurred as a direct result of the community’s responding to their distressed youth and the suicide clusters, with Ragne going to support other principals with suicide pre- and postvention, co-designed community initiatives emerging, training being rolled out, and no further youth suicides occurring in Porirua East since. 

Tofa Suafole Gush

Director - Pacific People’s Health for Wairarapa and Hutt Valley District Health Boards, Interim Executive Director - Pacific People’s Health for Capital and Coast District Health Board
Nominated by Capital & Coast DHB

Tofa Suafole Gush leads the “Ta’iala Mo le Ola Manuia Mental Health Project”, which launched in July of 2019.  The three-year project is a partnership between the Hutt Valley District Health Board Pacific Directorate and Samoan Ministers Fellowship Hutt Valley Regional Incorporated (Mafutaga) on behalf of 17 multi-denominational Churches in the Hutt Valley.  It focusses on upskilling, improving understanding and increasing the mental health literacy of Pacific Church ministers, their partners and key church leaders through training and activities. This includes suicide prevention literacy education.  Ministers’ have indicated they know how to talk to people about theological concerns, but they also need a sound understanding of mental health in order to provide a more holistic service for their communities.  With this in mind, the project uses a combination of cultural, pastoral, spiritual and clinical knowledge to equip church leaders with the right tools and understandings to be the first responders to their congregations in regard to mental health issues and suicide prevention.

Philip Chapman

Founding Director of The Male Room
Nominated by Nelson Marlborough DHB

As the director and founder of Male Room Incorporated, Philip has over 30 years’ experience in working with families and particularly males in the Nelson Region.  The Male Room is the first port of call for any issues for males in the district, as Philip has the knowledge base and skills to help men who are struggling through almost any situation, be it divorce, legal issues, or any number of other matters.  In addition to his services at the Male Room, Philip is also a Justice of the Peace, due to the years of hard work advocating and working to support those in Nelson; he also serves as the deputy chairman for the Primary Health Organisation; Independent chairman of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Aotearoa New Zealand [MSSATANZ], and is part of the core steering committee for Te Rito anti-violence network in the Nelson Tasman region.  Another position Philip holds is the chairman of the Waimea Men’s Shed, which works to practically support primarily older males and help them avoid the isolation that can happen after retirement. 

David Armstrong

Health & Safety Manager with Alliance group, Ltd.
Nominated by South Canterbury DHB

David Armstrong saw a need in his place of work, recognising that men like him who work in the agricultural sector (including farming and freezing works) are at high risk for psychological distress, and took action, approaching the executive leadership at his workplace – Alliance Ltd. – with a proposal to deliver a wellbeing and suicide prevention programme for all employees.  The Chief Executive gave his total support to the proposal and wanted the programme implemented immediately, across all nine of Alliance’s plants. Thus “Mates @ the Gate” was born.  The programme has had a huge impact, with new wellbeing support roles, facilitation and champion roles, and a workplace culture where “it is OK to be asked if you need help, it’s OK to offer help, and it’s OK to attend assistance programmes and specialist mental health and social service providers”.  

David is also an employee representative on the local Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, the DHB Suicide Mortality Review Group and the South Canterbury Psychosocial Interagency Recovery Committee, which has provided him a platform to ensure a continued focus on workplace wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Verona Cournane

Volunteer Postvention Group Chair, Happiness House Support
Nominated by Southern DHB

Verona is the former lead mental health clinician for the Queenstown/Central Otago area.  Despite being retired for several years now, Verona has worked tirelessly as a volunteer in suicide prevention and postvention for several years now.  Post-lockdown has been especially demanding in the Queenstown area; her excellent work and support through this difficult period have been invaluable to the DHB.

If you are currently having suicidal thoughts or need to speak to a trained counsellor, please free phone or free text 1737. If it's an emergency and you or someone you know is in immediate physical danger, phone 111 now.