Advisory Group

Tanya Breen M. Soc. Sc. (1st hons.); Dip. Psyc. (Clin.); MNZPsS; MICP

As a consultant clinical psychologist in private practice in New Zealand, Tanya Breen often appears as an expert witnesses in criminal cases where autistic people are charged with criminal acts. She also undertakes autism diagnosis, assessment and intervention/support with individuals and their families, and provides professionals with autism training.

Tanya is well-known for her work on the New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline, her role in the development of Altogether Autism, and her work with the Ministry of Health on a range of other autism related topics. Tanya is currently working towards the degree of Doctor of Health Science, where she is researching autism and legal proceedings.

Rebekah Corlett

Rebekah Corlett (Ngati Porou)

As a parent of an autistic 11 year old, Rebekah has used her background in journalism and public speaking to advocate for equitable opportunities and outcomes in education.

She has previously held positions as a consumer panel member for Autism NZ, and a board of trustees member for a specialist school.

Rebekah is currently a Governing Committee Member for Inclusive Education Action Group (IEAG) and an admin for the popular Facebook group VIPS – Equity in Education Facebook.

Rebekah has presented at Education and Workforce Select Committee, co-presented an NZEI workshop at their Inclusive Education Summit, and was keynote speaker at Autism NZ’s parliamentary breakfast for World Autism Day 2019.

As a non-autistic, Rebekah believes in amplifying the voices of autistics, and being an ally, not an advocate for the autistic community.

Timothy Folkema

Timothy Folkema

I opened myself to the world in an Altogether Autism Journal article. I own my struggle, but it is by no means unique to me; I haven’t met a peer yet who has not experienced some level of discrimination or difficulty in simply being them. We all have stories to tell. We can all relate.

Serving my people has been my vocation and passion for more than 10 years, leading to many wonderful collaborative efforts and achievements. Over the past five years I have presented workshops on Te Ao Whaitakiwātanga, The Autistic World; including as a part of iNDx in Dunedin 2019. In late 2018, alongside the upper-North Island autistic arts community, I had the privilege of curating an exhibition called INFINITY. We had over 10 entries in one day when the word got out, leading to a full show at the end of the year. Our ethos was, and is, simple; we are artists, creators, and want to be seen as such. We continue to defy the allistic view of us through our creative outlets.

In 2013-16 I had the fun experience of working alongside Hamilton City Council as a youth disability advisor with the Youth Council Advisory Panel; sharing the youth disability voice directly with Council. Presently, I am a board member of Voices From The Spectrum Charitable Trust, a charity set up by and for autistic adults who do not require supervisory care. Voices is independently/community funded and supported by a 100% autistic board. I also run workshops and presentations for corporate, clinical, non-profit and community groups.

When I’m not running around advocating alongside our disability community, I make music, DJ, collect things, design graphix, and study.

It is my pleasure to work alongside Altogether Autism to share our voice and make positive and groundbreaking changes for the Autistic communities in Aotearoa.

Mā mātou anō mātou e kōrero e hoa mā!

Noho ora mai.

Paul Freeman

Paul Freeman and his wife, Sharron, live in the Hawkes Bay. With a background in corporate management, Paul and Sharron recently decided to start their own business – Stim Craftsmanship – that creates products from retired wine barrels and recycled native timber in their home workshop.
Proudly part of a quirky family of three adult children, Paul was diagnosed on the spectrum in 2012, which came as no surprise to those around him as his youngest son had received the same diagnosis a couple of years earlier.
Paul is passionate about equality and rights for persons with disabilities of all types, and is currently a trustee for Sailability Hawkes Bay and the admin chair for Napier Sailing Club.
When not in the workshop, on the water, or supporting his wife Sharron with Bay Autism Support, Paul might be found relaxing with his dog Yoda.

Jane Hughes – MBChB, FRANZCP, Consultant Psychiatrist

During my practice as a consultant psychiatrist within a specialist mental health service for adults with an intellectual disability, I have developed expertise in both autism and the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions that autistic individuals may experience.

Nan Jensen – BA (English Lit) ; MBA (Finance and Int’l Business); LLB (1st Hons) 

Nan has been involved in the disability sector since 1998 and has held roles in governance, advisory, support parent, advocacy and employee capacities. Two of her four adult children are on the autism spectrum, and she decided to study law after taking a successful arbitration case against the Ministry of Education to retain Ongoing Resourcing Scheme funding for her son. Nan was also recently diagnosed autistic herself.

Maia Kawana (Ngati Rangitane/Ngati Kahungunu)

Kia ora,

I have 2 Autistic children, and we live in rural Waikato.  We enjoy looking after our varied farm animals and jumping on the trampoline before dinner.

I also do volunteer work for the McKenzie centre in Hamilton; focusing on supporting families with young Autistic children.

I am a Professional Engineer and work in Corporate Management as my day job.

I am delighted to be part of this Advisory Group, and I hope that I can help families and individuals in their journey.

Crystal Kire, Auckland

Crystal is of Te Rarawa, Ngāti Tahu/Ngāti Whaoa, Te Arawa descent. She lives in South Auckland and has a 14 year old son on the Autism Spectrum. Crystal has extensive work experience in the health and education sectors. In 2020 she switched roles from Hospital Play Specialist at Auckland Starship to Cultural Advisor at the Ministry of Education. Crystal is currently completing her Masters to develop a Māori framework for the assessment and development of autism. She is passionate about community service and volunteers across a variety of local projects and boards.

Estelle Pretorius – Speech Language Therapist

Estelle qualified as a speech language therapist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, before relocating to New Zealand in February 2007.

Estelle recently received her Master in Speech Language Therapy at Massey University. Her research investigated an embedded social communication intervention for young children on the autism spectrum.

Currently, Estelle is employed as a speech language therapist at McKenzie Centre for early intervention in Hamilton, New Zealand, where she applies her specialist knowledge and experience to support families and their young children on the autism spectrum.

Estelle has a strong interest in the field of family capacity building practice and collaborative interventions. Therefore, Estelle’s next steps for her doctoral work at Massey University, will be to work with families and early childhood education teachers in a joint training and coaching model, implementing a naturalistic embedded instruction approach.

Daniel Smith

Daniel grew up and was educated in the United Kingdom working for many years as a medical scientist in the health sector. He moved to New Zealand in 2008 to take up a role as a medical scientist, advancing to the role of technical specialist in immunohistochemistry.

Daniel is an autistic man and has a blended young family including six children diagnosed on the spectrum. He received his diagnosis at the same time as them when he was in his 30s.

Daniel joined the Consumer Reference Group after presenting lived experience at the Altogether Autism conference in Auckland in 2018.  He has worked with Waikato Museum to help them create autism friendly evening for some exhibits and joined the living guidelines group who recommend updates to the New Zealand autism spectrum guidelines.

Daniel has given teacher training to some schools based on his experiences of education and unknowingly being on the spectrum. Read more

Catherine Swan – Development Paediatrician

Catherine has worked as a developmental paediatrician with Canterbury District Health Board since 2002 having trained in Aotearoa and London, UK.  Over the last decade her main focus has been diagnosis and support for autistic children and their whānau. Catherine is also a clinical lecturer at the University of Otago and parent of five children. Catherine says one of the aspects of her work she enjoys most is working with others to create positive solutions within existing networks and resources whilst keeping an eye out for new directions for understanding and support.