Counselling Services

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

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

Referrals are welcome from students, from staff and from family members. 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 80 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 students can be referred free of charge for psychological support to the school psychologist who works in our team or to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, either the Kari Centre (at Greenlane Clinical Centre) or Whirinaki (South Auckland). Referrals can be recommended when students face chronic or severe depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks or other mental health challenges.

Itinerant Counsellors from Auckland Sexual Abuse Help and Community Alcohol and Drug Services work from our premises for students who request specialist help.

HOD Counselling – Margaret Hoogendoorn

M.Ed. (Counselling), University of Auckland, MNZAC.

I was born and bred in the Netherlands, where I completed my Teacher Training. Teaching Art in New Zealand, students often brought up personal challenges with me in the Art room. I developed a passion for “helpful talk” and decided to train as a Counsellor.

I still feel as excited and privileged to work at Mount Roskill Grammar as when I started in 1996.

This diverse, colourful community has so much heart.  The school’s overarching values of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga match my passion for restorative justice facilitation and for facilitating proactive groups to create connectedness and belonging.

I run the Peer Sexuality Support Programme and the school’s Diversity group with a large group of outstanding student leaders. 

Department Members

Donna Hourigan-Johnston,  MA (Counselling), University of Auckland; MNZAC

I have lived in the Mount Roskill community for over 30 years, and our children have both attended Mt Roskill Grammar. After working as a Family Therapist for 16 years, I became a School Counsellor at MRGS in 2001.

I love working alongside our young people and I am deeply committed to their social and emotional wellbeing. I believe as a community we are all responsible for the care of our children.

I am the Coordinator of the Peer Mediation and Mentorship service, and I work in collaboration with the Peace Foundation. We have over 200 trained Mediators at the school who act as ‘Ambassadors of Social Justice’. These inspirational young people speak up for the important values of peace, kindness, respect and equality for all.

Mary Mendez MA (Counselling), University of Auckland; MNZAC

I moved to New Zealand 10 years ago and fell in love with this beautiful country. I am Greek- Australian and married to an Indian with two beautiful children. Being part of a multicultural family living in New Zealand has allowed me to experience, appreciate and learn about the different ways in which various cultures work and their values. Incorporating and recognising this in a counselling space for every student is a very big part of my counselling ethos. Over the next few years I hope to work on my Te Reo skills adding another dimension to my understanding and appreciation of how different cultures work.

After completing my Masters in Counselling, I have worked in a range of counselling settings including Youthline. I am deeply passionate about working alongside and helping our youth feel understood, supporting them to be their best self.

I work in a client centred way incorporating various forms of therapy such as sand tray, two chair work, CBT and DBT and tailor my counselling approach the student’s needs and interests. Using the different strategies from various counselling models and tailoring them to the student and focusing on their strengths helping to build their resilience and coping skills.

I love seeing students grow and come into their own. Walking alongside them for part of their journey to help them through personal growth or to overcome adversity while also discovering their strengths and fostering new connections, is what I love about my job. I feel so incredibly privileged to be part of such a wonderful and diverse community at Mount Roskill Grammar School.

Rose Jenkin  BSc (Hons), Dip Couns University of Auckland, MNZAC

Removing stigma around mental health is a particular passion of mine, and I have been very excited to work with year 12 and 13 student leaders who have a similar focus. The power of peer to peer messages is strong, and our “Live for Tomorrow…” events are so much more effective than my own voice could ever be.

I feel it is a great privilege and joy to accompany our wonderful students as they find ways to manage difficulties and celebrate their successes.

Learning about what is meaningful to our students and hearing how they express themselves authentically reminds me that I am on sacred ground.

Michelle Parkinson M.Ed Couns, University of Auckland, MNZAC

I come from a background of teaching English and transitioned to counselling around 10 years ago.  I love working with teenagers and in the school environment.  I feel so privileged to be allowed to listen and work with students as they navigate life as an adolescent.  There’s a lot to cope with as a teenager and having someone who can listen in a warm, non-judgemental way, and offer another perspective, can be very helpful.  

I work in a client centered way and incorporate Sand Tray therapy when a student is interested.  I incorporate skills and strategies such as mindfulness and challenging negative thinking to build resilience and enable coping.  I love to lead Travellers groups with year 9 students, teaching life skills, and fostering connections.  The Body Image Leaders meet with me once a week and we co-construct ways to promote body acceptance and self love.  

It is a pleasure to work at MRGS in this diverse community.  One of my goals for the next few years is to develop my Te Reo skills.  I always enjoy learning about other cultures, religions, and world views.  I love to build students up, to help them find their strengths, and to develop hopes and dreams for the future.  

Tara English BPhEd, M Counselling, MNZAC

The mental and emotional wellbeing of our young people has always been important to me as well as social justice.  I see my role to support our rangatahi, to walk with them, helping them navigate their way through this often confusing time.  Within my values of social justice I will also very strongly advocate for any rangatahi, ensuring they are supported to achieve to be their best.

I have always enjoyed working with teenagers, coming from a background of teaching Health and Physical Education, then making the transition to becoming a counsellor.  I have a family with 3 children and a few four legged pets as well.

I feel very privileged to be working at MRGS as it is a school that mirrors many of my values.  These are values of accepting diversity, working in a restorative manner to repair harm as it happens, and having a real desire to work with rangatahi holistically.

Making an Appointment

For students: please drop in at the start of the day to make an appointment with a Counsellor of your choice, or private message us on Facebook/mrgs counselling

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

Pro-active work

As counsellors, a large part of our work is “Top of the cliff” preventative mental and social health support.

We run whole-class and group restorative conferences to help explore harm and repair relationships and a wide range of group programmes.

We run the Peer Sexuality Support Programme, Peer Mediation, “Live4tomorrow…”, Body Image Leaders and Shakti Youth Network for Change. 

The counselling department runs a range of proactive group programs including Drumbeat. DRUMBEAT is a flexible programme that combines experiential learning with cognitive behavioural therapy, and engages young people who would benefit from extra support.