With a successful weekend of training, our MATES team continues to prepare for an exciting start to their journey in 2024. This year we will work with over 220 students from 14 schools across Auckland.

Motivated by her passion to empower and advocate for marginalised communities, Teri Fong joined Great Potentials Foundation as the MATES Programme Manager in January 2023 and has continued into 2024. Alongside Teri are the dedicated MATES Coordinators, Ashritha, Gemma, Ma’ukakala and Rebecca. Many of which have completed the Education 200 course at the University of Auckland as a mentor and now have transitioned into the coordinator position at MATES.

MATES 2024 team: Rebecca, Teri, Ma'ukakala, Ashritha and Gemma (from left to right)

Teri Fong, MATES Programme Manager

Teri holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics/International Relations and Gender Studies and has recently completed a Master of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Auckland. Prior to working at the Great Potentials Foundation, Teri was involved in a number of non-governmental organisations before starting her career at the University of Auckland as a Schools Adviser, and Senior Schools Adviser.

Teri is passionate about youth empowerment and uplifting and empowering our marginalised communities in Aotearoa. In her role as the Programme Manager, Teri hopes to enact positive and proactive change to ensure the success of our tauira and rangatahi through the MATES programme. 

Ashritha Bagadam, MATES Coordinator

Ashritha holds a Bachelor of Education (Primary) since 2022. Ashritha's commitment to addressing educational underachievement among disadvantaged youth in New Zealand is deeply rooted in her teaching background. She is passionate about supporting young people's education during crucial points in their journey, believing in the impact that mentoring and tutoring can make.

Gemma O’Connor, MATES Coordinator

Gemma is a Psychology and Education Graduate since 2023. Working with rangitahi has always been Gemma's passion, learning from and supporting them on their exceptional journeys in life. "MATES is an excellent way to help students realise their potential. As mentors, we aim to offer guidance and encouragement to a treasure we know they can possess."

Ma’ukakala Hindt-Ofa, MATES Coordinator

Ma’ukakala is studying to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Education and Pacific Studies. "MATES is an amazing opportunity to give back to our communities, especially our rangatahi. My goal through MATES is to continue fostering a welcoming and safe environment for rangatahi to confidently express themselves and guide them into making confident decisions in their academic journey."

Rebecca Thwaites, MATES Coordinator

Rebecca is studying towards a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology. "Joining MATES as a mentor in 2023 through the Education 200 course was a pivotal moment, as I discovered how I can use my skills to positively impact others and help them reach their full potential. Through MATES, I've discovered a meaningful way to build supportive relationships and empower others to excel academically.”

We need more MATES mentors for 2024!

If you, or someone you know is at least 2nd Year in tertiary study in Auckland and available from 2- 3 hours per week, join us in guiding the future of our young people. This is a paid opportunity. Mentoring is highly rewarding, and you’ll gain valuable work experience.


Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme (MATES) is a mentoring programme that addresses the underachievement in the education of disadvantaged youth by working alongside schools to connect tertiary student Mentors with student Mentees at key educational transition points in Year 8 and Year 13.

This year, we’re excited to introduce MATES to three high schools — Henderson High School, Mangere College, and Otahuhu College.

MATES Senior Schools 2024

Aorere College

Auckland Girls Grammar School (AGGS)

Henderson High School

Mangere College

Otahuhu College 

Sir Edmund Hillary

Southern Cross Campus

Tamaki College

MATES Junior Schools 2024

Avondale Intermediate School

Clendon Park School

Finlayson Park School

Henderson Intermediate School

Mangere East Primary School

Papakura Intermediate School