From The CEO’S Desk: Linda’s October Message to You

Tēnā koutou katoa

It is with great sadness that I must advise that our colleague and regional co-ordinator, for Lower North, John Collett died suddenly over a week ago. He was doing something he particularly loved – cycling and exploring our wonderful countryside when he was tragically killed. Our thoughts are with his family here and in England.  All those who met him and worked with him will miss him terribly.

For those of you who were able to attend our national conference in Christchurch I am sure you will agree that much learning, connection, building relationships and fun was had by all.  This was our last annual conference. As we grow, we have decided to hold our national conference every two years, so our next is in Auckland 2019.

Thanks to all of the caregivers and agencies for attending.  For those that couldn’t make it, some of the sessions were filmed  and these will be available in the not too distant future.

At conference, we held our AGM.  Liz Tere Tai, Upper North Regional Representative and Diana Halsted, Lower North Regional Representative both stepped down from Regional Representative roles.  I would like to thank them for their time and commitment to the Board and Fostering Kids New Zealand. Diana will continue as a valued Board Member but will no longer be the Lower North Regional Representative. I am very pleased to advise that Colin Hardgrave was re-elected to Central North and will remain as our Chair.

I am happy to announce we have two new board members John Lopdell, Lower North Regional Representative and Yasser El Shall, Upper North Regional Representative.  Congratulations to them both, I am sure they will both have much to contribute over the next term.


Yasser was born in Cairo, Egypt and immigrated to New Zealand eighteen years ago. He is a proud loving husband to a wonderful woman who has been his biggest strength. He is the proud father of five children; three boys (one of them is a foster child) aged 16 to 24 years old and two girls aged 25 and 28.  He is very proud that two of his sons are Social Workers working with our most vulnerable foster children.  I believe that their career choice is a direct reflection of our whanau kaupapa.   He has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Business Management.

Six years ago he started his journey with children as a Specialist Caregiver for high risk and complex needs youth, through Youth Horizons Trust.  This, he believes, is when he truly discovered himself and passion for vulnerable children in care. His decision to be a foster parent was based on the firm belief that he can make a positive difference in a foster child’s life. Having a child in his care is his biggest reward and asset. Fostering makes him feel so special and that his life with his son is complete.

John Lopdell                                                

John lives in the eastern suburbs of Wellington, with his wife, four children and their labradoodle, Boston. He is a statistician, and for 25 years worked for Statistics New Zealand, including several years in a management role. He now works as a consultant for a US research company, with much of his work related to US and international education studies. After exploring international adoption as a way of giving back, Andrea and John found out about the great need for transitional foster care. Four years ago they began their journey as transitional foster carers with Child, Youth and Family, and have been privileged to have almost 30 children aged from 12 hours to 12 years old live with them in that time. They love being part of a multi-discipline team focused on achieving the very best for these children. The pain of saying goodbye is eased by knowing they are in a good place, which thankfully has been the case for the majority. Their passion for foster care has grown steadily.

Caregiver Member Survey

It is with great excitement that we can now announce the winners of the Caregiver Member Survey.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. The winners are:

Laptop – Ester Lewis from Auckland

$100 Grocery Vouchers:

Marie Gorinski – Whanganui

Jocelyn Walker – Roxburgh

Leanne Ellis – Tauranga

Rita Bragger – Martinborough


Mā te wā
Linda Surtees

Share this Post