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At Mount Roskill Grammar School we have a team of four Counsellors. All have post-graduate counselling qualifications, and all are full members of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors. They abide by the Code of Ethics of this association, which means that confidentiality is maintained unless there is an imminent risk to safety.

Counsellors work in the Student Services building next to the Hall. When you walk in, our friendly receptionist, Jan Pace, will help you access the services you need.

Referrals are welcome from students, from parents and from staff. An appointment system is used to enable Counsellors to give our students uninterrupted sessions. Counsellors offer individual and group counselling, mediation and Restorative Justice facilitation and advocacy. They share a commitment of working towards a socially healthy and emotionally safe school.

Over 100 students attend counselling each week for a wide range of issues. Students of all academic levels, and from all ethnicities and age groups are represented. Students do not need to be “in trouble” at school!

If appropriate, and with parental consent, students can be referred free of charge to the Kari Centre (in Greenlane Clinical Centre) for psychological support. This can be recommended when students face depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other mental health issues.

Itinerant Counsellors from Auckland Sexual Abuse Help work from our premises one day a week. Also, Counsellors from Community Alcohol and Drug Services provide counselling here if this help is requested.

Making an Appointment

Counselling Team

For students: please drop in at the start of the day (between 8.15 and 8.50) to make an appointment with a counsellor of your choice.

For parents: please e-mail or phone to make an appointment.

  • Margaret Hoogendoorn (M.Ed.Counselling, University of Auckland, MNZAC) Head of Guidance Peer Sexuality Support Programme coordinator Ph. 6210050, xt. 825
  • Donna Hourigan-Johnston (M.A.Counselling, University of Auckland, MNZAC) Mediation and Life Mentorship co-ordinator Ph. 6210050, xt. 864
  • Rose Jenkin (B.SC. (Hons); Postgraduate Dip. Counselling, University of Auckland, M.N.Z.A.C.) Ph. 621-0050 xt. 713
  • Leisa Munro M. Ed Mgmt, University of Auckland, Provisional NZAC, Counsellor-in-training.  Body Image Leader Co-ordinator. Ph 621 0050 ext 865

Student Led Initiatives in the Counselling Department

Counsellors and students run a number of programmes within our school which helps us to spread our message of supporting each other, stopping harassment, building respectful relationships and celebrating diversity.

These programmes are Peer Sexuality Support Prorgamme (PSSP), Peer Mediation and Mentorship Service, and Body Image Leaders (BIL).

Counselling Group Programmes

We have two proactive group programmes to support Year 9 students. These are our Anti-Harassment Programme and The Travellers Programme. (links above)

Out of School Help

Recommended telephone lines:

Youthline  0800-376633  or txt 027 4 youths

Chinese Lifeline: 0800-888880

Domestic Violence Centre (24 hour line) 0508 744 633

Sexual abuse help (24 hours) 6231700

Recommended websites.

For depression: www.thelowdown.co.nz and www.depression.org.nz

For teenagers supporting a friend who has an unwanted sexual experience: www.gr8mates.org.nz

Drinking and drugs out of control? www.cads.org.nz

Domestic violence: www.2shine.org.nz

Body Image and Eating Issues: www.womens-health.org.nz/programmes/body-image-programme/   

Body Image Leaders (BIL)

From the bottom left rising: Deeksha, Arshiya, Aashna, Nikisha, Lily, McGregor, Elisa, Sai Krupa, Meera, Jamie, Bethany, Jenny, Lily, Kerisha, Shania, Abdul (absent Sam, Tahsin & Jada)

At Mount Roskill Grammar we celebrate all kinds of diversity. One of these is the diversity of Body Shape and Size. Many students struggle with their body image and few realise that the picture they have in their minds of how they should look is greatly affected by images portrayed in the media. Many of these images have been photo-shopped, air brushed and computer enhanced to the point that they do not represent reality.

At Mount Roskill Grammar we have a group of students called the Body Image Leaders whose mission is to promote positive Body Image, Body Satisfaction and to create awareness around the myths the media presents as to how we “should” look.

Currently the team is made up of 5 boys and 13 girls. The group has been established in the school since 2001.

The Body Image Leaders support other students in two main ways. Firstly they educate and increase awareness around Body Image by teaching a session on Body Image for all Yr 10 Health Classes and by making Assembly presentations to the whole school. Secondly they support students who might be dealing with Body Image and Body Satisfaction issues.

Currently our Body Image Leader team consists of:

  • Nikisha Ali
  • Shania Amolik
  • Elisa Chow
  • Jenny Chung
  • Jamie Gibson
  • Meera Hamed
  • Bethany Harris
  • Jada Ioane
  • Abdul Khader
  • Samuel Langi
  • Lily Li
  • Arshiya Mohamed Arif
  • Tahsin Munir
  • Sai Krupa Narayana
  • Aashna Rahi
  • McGregor Small
  • Kerisha Subramoney
  • Deeksha Vijayakumar


The DRUMBEAT programme is a music therapy intervention designed to engage young people who would benefit from extra support.

The programme:

  • Engages young people quickly through music
  • Provides a sense of connectedness with self and others
  • Is non-competitive and fun
  • Allows for pro-social, creative self-expression
  • Reduces isolation
  • Reduces tension, stress and anxiety

The African djembe drum is a perfect medium – it’s easy to play (reduces fear of failure), it’s powerful (demands attention) and playing it is physical (releases tension). Participants learn how to co-operate, collaborate and communicate without the threat of misunderstanding and judgement that dialogue can bring. 

DRUMBEAT is a flexible programme that combines experiential learning with cognitive behavioural therapy, and engages young people who would benefit from extra support.
DRUMBEAT explores relationship issues such as:

  • Peer Pressure
  • Bullying
  • Dealing with emotions
  • Identity
  • Social responsibility
  • Teamwork

DRUMBEAT promotes social understanding and connection through a team drumming experience. It is fun, safe, creative, engaging and rewarding. Participants lift their self-esteem, learn to work cooperatively and are exposed to the therapeutic and recreational benefits of music.

The programme is taught to groups of 8-10 participants across ten one-hour sessions over a school term, and finishes with a performance.

n.b. new groups starting in 2017

Live for Tomorrow...

Live For Tomorrow…

Our Live for Tomorrow... student leaders are keen to promote messages of empathy, inclusion, and community here at MRGS, especially around mental health. The aim is to both de-stigmatise mental health, and to promote mentally healthy ways to live. This definitely includes having fun so they will be organising lots of events that make you smile.

Here are some of the messages Live for Tomorrow... are keen to share:

  • Asking for help is a sign of strength
  • Your present situation is not your final destination
  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Enjoy the little things
  • It’s OK not to be perfect
  • No emotion is permanent
  • No person struggling should have to endure judgement or discrimination
  • With the right support you can get through anything

The three dots are a symbolic reminder that there is an ongoing story, and if today is not feeling that great, Live for Tomorrow...

Peace Symposium 2017

On Friday 25th August, thirty MRGS Mediators attended the 13th Secondary Schools Peace Symposium organised by the Peace Foundation. 100 students represented 8 schools, all of which presented information about their schools Peer Mediation Service and Peace week activities. The students' presentations were exciting and inspirational, with many creative ideas on how to bring peace to school communities. Other peace speakers included Councillor Cathy Casey, Peace Activist Dr Lyndon Burford, and Giant Killa (Songwriter/musician/ actor).

Our very own MRGS students did an inspiring presentation which included their originally created NUCLEAR FREE NZ VIDEO and they sung Dr Lyndon Burford’s Nuclear Free Song. They received a standing ovation from the audience.

Well done to Natascha Bates, Kaitlyn Booth, Zane Chaudhry, Tafadzwa Chikomba, Lily Chu, Hana Galea, Jessica Gao, Paula Ilaua, Mele Kaufusi, Arusa Khalid, Adam King, Ash Kumar, Sammy-J Leuii, Annie Luteru, Haukinima Mafi, Eileen Makasini, Maria Makasini, Sherin Mohamed Bari, Tina Peau, Ellen Peng,  Elizabeth Qian, Janna Rana, Sidrena Sapoi, Ojas Shukla, Varshma Sivagnanam, Halym Smith, Larissa Tavui, Melody Ting, Siosaia Tuitupou, and Tasnim Yassin Ismail. You did MRGS proud once more!

A big thank you to the Peace Foundation for giving our students such an amazing opportunity!


Peace Week 2017


The Mediators once again helped MRGS celebrate International Peace Week during the 7th – 11th August by providing a number of exciting activities: peace assembly presentation; random acts of kindness; peace quote competitions; face painting; peace badge making; the wearing of white ribbons for peace; painted peace banners and t-shirts. In Monday’s assembly, the Mediators showed their inspirational video on Nuclear Free NZ, and then sang Dr Lyndon Burford’s original Nuclear free song. On Wednesday , it was “Embracing Diversity and Anti Violence Day” where the Hodge Commons was full of information stalls from outside agencies like Manalive, SHINE, RPE, Youthlaw, plus student run stalls on ‘Violence is not ok campaign’; PSSP, Amnesty, Live4Tomorrow, BILS, Skittles, Refugee awareness, Crane making and Peace Badge making. There was also beautiful music and singing playing outside.

A sausage sizzle (including halal sausages) raised funds for the Auckland City Mission because how can we have peace when we have poverty?

On the Friday, the Mediators marched for peace around Mt Roskill community with the releasing of green balloons into the sky.

Peace week is a student driven and student owned campaign where all the Mediators collaborate together in a positive way to make a difference to our MRGS community. They are very active and vocal about the important values of peace, kindness, equality and respect for all.

A big thank you to all you wonderful Mediators!


Peer Mediation and Mentorship

Peer Mediation is about students helping students. Mediators aim to resolve conflict in a constructive way. Conflict is a normal part of our lives and it is how we choose to deal with it that can make the difference.

The New Zealand Peace Foundation provides the mediation training in our school. Mediators learn to respect diversity and to value differences.

The role of the Mediators is to not only help students resolve conflict behind closed doors in a confidential mediation room. It is also about being “Ambassadors of Social Justice”. Mediators lead in the school community by promoting and modelling fairness and respect for others, watching out for harassment and bullying, and by supporting students to get help when needed. They aim is to help the school to be a safer place.

Mediators lead in the celebration of International Peace Week with assembly presentations, painted banners and white ribbons, face painting, peace poster competitions and daily peace quotes:

An eye for an eye makes everyone blind” (Mahatma Gandhi)

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” (Edmund Burke)

Our school initiated Peer Mediation services in 1994. Today we have over 200 trained Mediators. Annually over 250 students apply to become Mediators, and 100 students are selected to do the training.

Students interested in applying need to be in Year 11 and 12. Applications are invited at the beginning of each year. Advanced Mediation training in Human Rights issues is provided the following year. We presently have 86 Advanced Mediators. 30 Mediators each year have the opportunity to train as Life Mentors. After intensive two-day training, they are equipped to provide one to one support to younger students.

You are welcome to see our friendly receptionist Jan Pace at Student Services to request a Mediation, or a Life Mentor. Confidentiality assured!

The Bullying Forum - From Bully To Peacemaker


Peer Mentorship Training

On Sunday 18th June and Monday 19th June, 36 Mediators were trained by Julie McCracken in Peer Mentorship skills. This engaging and interactive training included goal setting, problem solving, rapport building, communication skills, and learning how to think outside the square. 100% of students reported really enjoying this course, learning  life skills that will help them in the future and highly recommending the course to other students. One student says: “I genuinely feel like a different person coming out of this course so thank you very much”.

Another student says:  “It is honestly the most important and efficient course you will ever take”.

Peer Life Mentors are available to support younger students one-to-one. So if any student would like some support or mentoring from an older student please contact Student Services.

A big thank you to Julie McCracken for this invaluable training and to Louise Fisher and Peter Maher for their generous donation to cover costs.


Independent Research Shows Outstanding Results for MRGS Peer Mediation Service 2016

The research project: Leadership through Peer Mediation (LtPM): Assessing its Impact in Nine Secondary Schools throughout the Auckland Region by Unitec Dr Helene Connor and Peace Foundation researcher Leo Buccahan has found overwhelming positive effects of the programme on students, teachers and school environments. Over 56% of the research respondents were from MRGS which is indicative of the success of the LtPM programme in the school.

Principals, school coordinators, teachers, current LtPM Peer Mediators, former LtPM Peer Mediators and students who had used the LtPM peer mediation service were overwhelmingly positive about the set of skills students learnt around peaceful conflict resolution. The following quotes from student LtPM mediators exemplify the impact of learning skills around peaceful conflict resolution:

“Being a mediator definitely allowed me to develop the skills I needed to improve my relations with the people around me. I feel like not very many people are conscious of the importance of skills like reflective listening, rapport building and using "I" statements, especially in daily situations. Safe to say, I definitely learned a lot being an LtPM mediator at MRGS, especially since I was able to mentor younger mediators as well.”

“All the skills taught in the training are life-long skills and I only wish everyone was taught this at school.”

“The Peer Mediation training and programme contributes significantly to student wellbeing! It creates belonging, connectedness and social responsibility.”

The research found that the majority of the respondents felt LtPM was of benefit to the culture of the school. LtPM was viewed as being helpful in improving relationships within the student population and appeared to reduce bullying, creating a safer environment.

Current and former LtPM Peer Mediators overwhelmingly found their peer mediation training and experience impacted positively on their lives both at school and beyond the school. A number of the comments mention improved relationships with family and friends and feeling more confident to tackle conflict when it arises. Former LtPM Peer Mediators commented on the usefulness of the training in their jobs or when they went onto tertiary study.

"I use the skills I've learnt in my personal life all the time. As a trainee doctor, being able to build rapport and understand different personality types has been invaluable. I still reference my peer mediation training when we have professional and communication skills assessments!”

The Research Report recommends that a case study of Mount Roskill Grammar School be undertaken as the results of the Survey Monkey survey, clearly identified this school as a ‘stand-out’ success regarding the implementation of the LtPM programme. A case study would help identify some of the underpinning reasons for the success of the programme and why it has been so stringently supported by staff and students alike.

‘Students are the agents of change, you give them the responsibility and they will fly with it!’

-Donna Hourigan-Johnston, LtPM School Coordinator, Mount Roskill Grammar School, (Peace Foundation, 2015).

MRGS Mediation Service Highlighted

The latest edition of the Peace Foundation’s publication ‘Mediation Works’ features the work of our extensive student led mediation service. The article written by school counsellor Mrs Hourigan-Johnston gives focus to the dedicated and long running service at our school. In her piece she points out that involvement in mediation ‘increases confidence and resiliency in students, helping them to achieve better at school.’ A year 12 mediator acknowledges this and its support of key Roskill values in the statement, ”It has strengthened my sense of belonging to the school and I am now more committed to everything I undertake. It has motivated me to strive for excellence and have a positive attitude."

full text available via picture link above

Peer Sexuality Support Programme (PSSP)

We are proud to be part of the Auckland District Health Board’s Peer Sexuality Support Programme. This programme started about ten years ago when increasing evidence became available that advice and information given by peers is effective in influencing adolescent attitudes and behaviours. Young people have knowledge of the culture, language and concerns of people their own age. This way young people can be empowered to make informed decisions about their sexual health.

Each year we select some students who attend a four-day training hui with students from other schools. The training programme concentrates on exploring the attitudes, behaviours, beliefs and values of participants and their peer groups. The experiential workshops raise the personal awareness of participants’ own sexual health and identifies the limits of their role. They are provided with accurate information, and access to resources and resource people. They are upskilled in the areas of support and communication skills, knowledge of referral pathways, and ideas on health promotions within our school. The trained students then act as support, resource and health promotion people within their peer group and within our school. Our students help the counsellors teach classes on relationships and sexuality within the Year 10 Health programme. They actively promote values like respect and communication.

Ship of World Youth Leaders 2017

“Ship for World Youth Leaders” visit Mt Roskill Grammar

On Valentine’s day, 50 delegates from all over the world from the “Ship for World Youth Leaders” (SWY) visited MRGS to hear about MRGS’s Peer Mediation Service and NZ’s peace initiatives. This programme (SWY) is operated by the Japanese Government involving youth from Japan and many countries around the world.

It was an honour for MRGS Mediators to host this visit where we had presentations from the Peace Foundation, SOUL (Save Our Unique Landscape campaign) and the MRGS Mediators past and present. The room was a buzz of conversations about peace, respect and social justice.

 As one Advanced Mediator, Bhavisha Punja says:

It was an amazing experience where we were encouraged to ‘BLOOM’ by Matt Renata, which stands for: “Be a Leader that Opens Others Minds”. That we can lead from the front, the back and the side. That we are today’s Leaders, and that everyone and anyone can make a change if you put your heart, mind and soul into it.... The event was like being with family where we all wanted the same things of peace and love for the world. It was also great hearing from the Ex MRGS Mediators as we learnt how mediation had changed their lives and how they still use the skills in their careers and life”.

Ajay Ravindran who was a MRGS mediator in 2010 brought the delegates to MRGS. He states:

The powhiri was beautiful, and definitely served as the perfect introduction to Aotearoa, to Tamaki Makaurau, and to Mt Roskill Grammar. The mihi by Mr Watson on behalf of the school and by Matt Renata on behalf of the manuhiri and participants also set the tone for the rest of the visit...
I think the biggest round of applause has to be given to the MRGS students. I loved how open and eager they were with the participants. I know some of the Japanese participants especially were a little shy at first, but they (and others) couldn't stop talking to me about how awesome the students were...Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart, it was a huge privilege to be able to bring this group to MRGS and to have these conversations shared with them

A big thank you to the Kapa Haka group and Whaea Lee for the beautiful powhiri; The Peace Foundation presentations from Chris Le Breton, Lyndon Burford and Christina Barruel; Presentation from SOUL Pania Newton and Farrell Cleary;  our amazing ex MRGS Mediators : Naima Ali, Jonjon Cowley- Lupo, MaryKate Fonua, Nancy Gafa, ,Diana Qiu and Ajay Ravindran and last but never least to our wonderful Mediators who did MRGS proud once again!


The Travellers Programme

Exploring Life’s Changes

Travellers is a school-based mental health promotion programme for young people in Year Nine that enhances connectedness and supports changes in life’s journey.

“I feel pretty good about myself now. Before I used to feel that all my problems were piling up and now I feel I can sort them out. It seems that since I’ve been in the group everything’s changed and it’s all going my way now, like I’m just sorting out my problems, nothing can stop me now. I can deal with it. I used to try and keep my problems to myself and now I’m using my friends and I go to the school counsellor and sort them out. That was my big change from being in the Travellers group.”

Why Travellers?

Young people today are experiencing change at a pace more rapid than previous generations. At an individual level, they experience the biological, cognitive and psychosocial developmental changes associated with adolescence. Additional life change events experienced may include:

  • Changing schools
  • Changing friendships
  • The loss of something or someone close, such as family member or pet
  • Changing residence such as moving cities or countries
  • Changing family status such as parental separation or remarriage
  • Changing state of wellbeing e.g. self-esteem, illness or injury

When young people struggle to adjust to changes in their lives emotional distress may result, particularly if they do not have the necessary skills and/or support.

About the Travellers group programme…

Travellers aims to foster the healthy development of young people by:

  • exploring their change experiences;
  • developing ways to navigate their movement through change in safe and adaptive ways; 
  • supporting young people in exploring links between the ways in which they think and feel about change situations and how their thoughts and feelings influence how they cope and respond; and
  • enhancing supportive environments for young people experiencing change, and thereby improving their learning outcomes.

The name Travellers:

The name Travellers reflects the idea that “life is a journey” which involves change. The “journey” metaphor is one that young people in the pilot groups related to well:

“It sounded adventurous and it wasn’t embarrassing. I talked to my friends about it and that was good.”

The Travellers Group:

  • about 10 Year Nine young people
  • 8 sessions (120 minutes)
  • sessions reflect on major events and daily hassles
  • school-based in class time
  • facilitated by trained school staff which includes the school counsellors

Findings from the Travellers pilot project

Young people reported how their experience in Travellers enhanced their connections with peers, family members, staff and facilitators:

“It’s different now. Before I went to Travellers I didn’t really get along with my friends. I just felt invisible; no-one was listening to me or cared about me. Well now I speak up to them and finally they care about me and I’m not invisible any more.”

“I can talk to people and the counsellor. I could share my feelings and it was kept personal. I got on with people in the group. I get on with teachers now. I didn’t get on with them before Travellers. I talk to my form teacher about stuff now.”

Young people reported being able to access additional support and counselling as a result of taking part in Travellers:

“I got to know the counsellor in the group and I went to her. I wouldn’t have gone to her if I hadn’t got to know her in the group.”

“I would go to friends and family. I wouldn’t have done that before. I kept my troubles to myself.”

Young people’s emotional distress reduced:

“It was really good and everyone should go. I got mentally stronger from doing Travellers.”

“Before Travellers I was low coming to a new school and I’m now happy and feel pretty special that I was chosen.”

“It was really good, especially for the third form because it helps you ease into new surroundings and it sort of explains things.”

Young people reported improved school performance:

“I’ve changed in how I relate to teachers. I’ve been good and stuff, since I did Travellers I’m getting better reports.”

“Before I did Travellers I was a lot lazier and it’s made me more motivated and wanting to do something with my life.”

Counsellors’ comments reflect the positive outcomes Travellers has in schools:

“I perceive Travellers as an example of powerful, cutting edge, secondary school guidance counselling. To meet counselling needs proactively and time-effectively in small groups needs to be an approach we take if we want to have a significant impact on the emotional health of our school population.” Margaret Hoogendoorn

A Principals’ comment highlights the effectiveness of Travellers in schools:

“We see Travellers as a very valuable addition to the work that we do and that early identification is really valuable. We see it as very effective. It allows counsellors to engage with the young people in a more positive way to begin with and then if they need to unpack some of their concerns, they’ve already got the relationship.”

Questions parents might have about Travellers

How is selection for the programme done?

By the administration of a 10-15 minute survey to all Year Nine students early in TERM ONE of the school year to identify young people for the Travellers programme.

Does my child have to participate?

Participation is voluntary. You may choose to withhold permission for your child to take part in the initial Year Nine survey as well as for your child to participate in the group. However it is recommended that your child is encouraged to participate in Travellers as it has been found to be extremely beneficial for those young people who have previously taken part.

What if the survey indicates significant distress for a young person?

If a young person is identified as experiencing a significant level of emotional distress, the school counsellor will follow established school protocols and ethical counselling practice.

When does the Travellers group take place?

During school time and with a sensitivity to students academic attendance requirements.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Hoogendoorn, Head of Guidance, or 

The Travellers Project Manager


PO Box 7309, Wellington South

New Zealand

Free phone 0800 299 100

Email: info@skylight-trust.org.nz

Year 9 Anti-Harassment Programme

To learn effectively, students need to feel emotionally safe at school. Harassment, bullying and shaming cause long-term psychological damage, and hence are unacceptable.. At Mount Roskill Grammar School we take harassment seriously. We don’t think it’s a “normal part of growing up”, we don’t believe it’s helpful to ignore it, we don’t think it’s “just a bit of friendly mocking”. We pro-actively try to stop it.

In term 1 each year, all Year 9 core classes spend two periods in the “Sunshine Rooms”, the large group room of the Counsellors that can seat a whole class in a circle. Students get an opportunity to get to know the two Counsellors who co-facilitate the sessions, and we explain how Counsellors support students at Mount Roskill Grammar School.

Following on, we run an interactive workshop on Harassment. We explain we are passionate about stopping harassment and bullying, and we take harassment extremely seriously at our school. We have many resources in place to stop it effectively:

  • Counsellors. Students can come and discuss harassment and bullying concerns confidentially with a counsellor. We will make a plan to stop he harassment. The names of the people who reveal the harassment can be kept confidential. We can work with students individually, but sometimes it is more helpful to work with a whole class to stop harassment. We use a restorative “No-Blame” script, focussing on students them selves taking responsibility to stop harassment.
  • Six very accessible Deputy Principals.
  • Harassment Contact Teachers. Each classroom has a poster with photographs of 16 Teachers who are trained to listen to harassment concerns, and who will take it seriously, and help it stop.
  • Student Mediators. They can help students resolve conflict in a confidential and respectful way. We have a Mediation Room in Student Services, and requests for Mediation can be made to a Counsellor, or to the Receptionist, Mrs. Pace.

We encourage both students and their parents to tell on Harassment! A common misunderstanding is that telling on harassment, teasing, and bullying will make it worse. Not true!

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