Connor has been working with Great Potentials Foundation for over 8 years, starting as a MATES mentor and now he is the MATES Programme Manager. His passion for youth mentoring allows him to continue doing amazing work for MATES programme. 



Tell us a little about yourself

Kia Ora, my name is Connor Bourne, and I am the MATES Programme Manager. I started my journey with Great Potentials in 2014. I spent the year as a mentor at Manurewa Intermediate and loved it so much that I stayed on as a mentor for another two years. Further down the line, I had the opportunity to step up as a school coordinator for the MATES Junior programme while starting my journey to study counselling. After finishing up at university, I had the opportunity to stay on with MATES as the programme manager. I am still growing in my role as a manager, but looking at the bigger picture, seeing trends in youth wellbeing and tracking their futures keeps me excited year after year.


What is a typical day at your job?

It's hard to pinpoint a typical day in my role as we work with many schools, mentors, and young people. You can usually find me in the MATES office at the Epsom campus of the University of Auckland. Here I work on programme admin and ensure MATES runs smoothly via our talented school coordinators. We have four coordinators in the office, two who work at our year 8 programme MATES Jr, and two who work at our year 13 programme MATES Sr. Everything the team and I do is to help our MATES programme run smoothly and make the best experience possible for our young people.  


Mates Mentor Training Session


What do you love the most about your job and Great Potentials Foundation?

If you couldn't tell, I've been at Great Potentials for a while. What I love about working here is how I've been given the opportunity to grow. I started as a nervous mentor, excited for my first session, and now I've worked with hundreds of young people across Auckland. Over the years, I was able to work with amazing rangatahi and remarkable mentors who have gone on to achieve great things like becoming teachers, social workers, lawyers, and engineers. Having that calibre of mentor sitting down and passing on their knowledge to the next generation makes this job so exciting. Plus, helping facilitate these inter-generational conversations and witnessing our young people's talent and potential makes my work very fulfilling.

Could you please share a special/unforgettable moment during your time with MATES?

As part of the programme, we get to take our year 8 students to the university and have them reflect on their futures, tour the campus, and sit in on lectures. One year, a lecturer from a history class allowed the students to sit at the back of her lecture; the topic was the history of a Roman general. I know very little about Roman history, and sitting through that lecture, I think 95% of what she said went straight over my head, I still can't remember the name of the man we learnt about, but as I looked down the line of mentees in the auditorium, they were all fascinated and following along. A mentee next to me asked if I had any spare paper and started writing notes like the university students. When we left, one student exclaimed, "but we have to come back for the second lecture. How will we know what happened!"

Seeing the mentees get excited about a topic I thought would be too complicated for them to follow was so cool. We spent the next session looking up Roman history, and I was humbled by how much of the lecture they still remembered!

Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme addresses the underachievement in education of disadvantaged youth in New Zealand.

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