Our Team

Big Buddies make an invaluable difference to boys without a father in their lives, simply by being there a few hours each week. The team members at Big Buddy are all proud to support them in making this positive difference...from behind the scenes!

Dedicated to making a positive difference

The Big Buddy operational team consists of full and part-time staff such as our CEO, Operations Manager and area Mentoring Managers. Expanding on and supporting their work are specialist contractors working in, for instance, psychology, finance and media. Being a charity, we are governed by a Board of Trustees and further supported by members of our fundraising arm, the Big Buddy Foundation.

While most of us come from different backgrounds and professions, the element that draws us together is the vision to find a Big Buddy for every boy that needs one.

Find out more about the people making Big Buddy tick below. Contact details for team members can also be found on our Contact page.

Chief Executive

Paul Burns

Paul Burns

- Chief Executive

Paul is Big Buddy’s new CEO – as of August 2017. He is married to Maryanne and proud Dad to Brooke, Caleb and Aston. He is very passionate about football – both as a social player and as current Chairman of Fencibles United AFC, one of the largest football clubs in NZ.



Steve Sobota

- Operations Manager

Steve is married to Joanne and father to Benjamin. They live on a bush clad section at the edge of the Waitakere Ranges. Steve is into music, particularly singing and percussion, is a runner, trying to compete in the odd half marathon. He is passionate about wine and all things made local.

Dave Burcher

Dave Burcher

-  Mentoring Manager for Wellington

Dave Burcher was born and raised in Wellington and resides in Upper Hutt with his wife Judith. Not only does he have a 25-year background in teaching, Dave also plays competitive football for the Upper Hutt City Football Club and is their head goalkeeper coach. Dave is, of course, a proud Phoenix supporter.

Martin Hosking

Martin Hosking

- Mentoring Manager for Central Auckland 

Martin Hosking is both a Mentoring Manager and looks after volunteer recruitment; he is the one you are likely to speak to if you message Big Buddy. He lives in Westmere with his partner Pam. He has been involved in men’s group work for 20 years, has two sons who are well grown-up and a wonderful granddaughter. He enjoys music, sailing, and is an avid cyclist.

Nic Heywood, Big Buddy South Auckland

Nic Heywood

- Mentoring Manager for South and East Auckland

Nic is married to Catherine and lives in central Auckland. He has lived in Northland for the last 20 years – working in the Health and family violence sectors.

Nic has many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and spends a lot of time trying keep up to date with their “goings on”, as they are scattered all over the country and a number them are overseas.

Nic has a keen interest in issues surrounding and or effecting the Maori and Pacific Island communities and has ties with Ngapuhi, Ngati Whatua and the Samoan communities.


Warren Yee

- Mentoring Manager for North and West Auckland

Warren comes from a background that spans secondary teaching to training and facilitation in the vocational education sector. He has been closely associated with Big Buddy for years as well as involvement in men’s personal development work; Warren has been a volunteer with the Essentially Men network for 17 years.

Warren is married to Linda, with a blended family of 5 adult children, plus 5 grandchildren. When not working, he loves walking Levi, their Jack Russell, and involving himself in a variety of different activities that relate to being a better person on a physical, emotional and spiritual basis.

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Matt Anderson-Smith

- Mentoring Manager for Hamilton & Tauranga

Matt and his fiancé, Aimee, live in Arataki, Mount Manganui. They love to spend their spare time playing with their nieces and nephews, running Cooper their dog or chasing the waves up and down the coast.

Matt has more than 10 years' experience with different forms of personal development,  including mentoring youth in need and men’s work. As such, he is very passionate about creating lasting, positive change in the lives of others through the delivery of quality programs that provide meaningful and tangible benefits. Matt is also a qualified yoga teacher.

Staff & Contractors

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Lettie Bright

- Partnership Manager

Lettie is originally from the UK but is now well and truly settled in West Auckland with Kiwi husband, Chris and their two boys, Jack and Luke.  She has been in the NZ not-for-profit sector for the last 8 years and is excited to be supporting Big Buddy’s great work “at the top of the cliff”.

In her life before children she loved to travel but is now happy to go to the beach with the family or curl up with a bottle of wine and the latest Marvel series.

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Wilbyn Mitchell

- Programme Coordinator

Wilbyn has been with his husband for almost 18 years and they have two teenage boys together.  They moved from South Africa in 2013 and now call East Auckland home.  They enjoy entertaining and often host wine club.

Wilbyn worked in school administration for many years and recently obtained a degree in counselling. He is passionate about youth mental health and wellbeing and helping children live authentic lives while reaching their full potential.

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Lee Templin

- Volunteer & Events Coordinator

Lee is passionate about charity work and facilitating opportunities for our youth. She has created and run many humanitarian groups with young people throughout her teaching career. She also has management experience that enabled her to establish a support network for PTSD/I. Lee understands first-hand the impact of not having a relationship with her biological father as a child and is grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to Big Buddy. Lee is originally from the U.S. and is proud to now be a New Zealand Citizen. She loves the ocean and prefers to spend her time outside of work surfing NZ’s beautiful coastline.


Russell Joyce

- Fundraiser

Russell lives in West Auckland with his wife Janine. He has two grown-up children, one now living in Scotland and the other studying at Auckland Uni. He is a keen road cyclist and also hosts a weekly Ashtanga yoga session. His goal for 2016 is to be understood when he attempts to speak Mandarin, Maori and Spanish. Russell enjoys reinventing himself, having been a journalist, a public relations manager and, most recently, a probation officer.

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Kim Bramwell

- Finance Manager

Kim has two children and has been married to Carl for over 30 years. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, long days in the garden and taking in the beauty of the Manukau and West Auckland beaches. If she were to lay claim to a cooking title, it would be the Queen of Pikelets and Pavlova.

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Jean Green

- Administrator

Jean enjoys doing Big Buddy’s admin, walking the local West Coast beaches with her partner and their dogs, trying to tame their wild garden and having fun with their extended family and grandchildren.


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Travis Field

- Chairman of the Trust

Travis has been a trustee since early 2011. Married for more than 25 years, he has two young adult children. Travis has interests in hospitality and leadership consultancy and is involved in men's community work. In his spare time he loves travelling, socialising, keeping fit and a wee dram of Single Malt.

Mark Talbot

Mark Talbot

- Trustee & Treasurer

Mark lives on Auckland’s North Shore with his wife Claire and their three children Tom, Molly & Charlie. He has been a Big Buddy mentor since 2007 and joined the board of trustees in 2011. Mark works with early stage technology companies seeking to expand globally and in his spare time loves the game of golf, although his handicap always seems to be heading in the wrong direction!

Emma Butcher

Emma Butcher

- Trustee

Emma is married to Warren and is Mum to son Tate. She has lived in the Grey Lynn/Westmere area for most of her adult life. Emma is a lawyer in her CBD firm, LangtonHudsonButcher, where she has practiced since 2007.  Emma has had more than two decades experience as a trusted legal advisor to public, private and not-for-profit organisations, and has a special interest in providing guidance to employers in the areas of bullying and harassment.

When not working or cheering on Tate from the sidelines at football, Emma loves to travel overseas or chill out in the family bach at Port Waikato.


Amanda Wilson

- Trustee

Amanda is a busy working mother - with a fabulously hectic household on Auckland's North Shore. She has more than 20 years experience in branding and marketing - largely built within media and tourism initially. As a strategic communication and branding consultant through her own business These Guys I Know - she is involved in many industries - from natural makeup to transport technology, and everything in between. Amanda is passionate about New Zealand, purpose-led business and smart people doing good things.  She is involved with Big Buddy so as to make a difference for young people in New Zealand - and help our boys become great men, great partners, and great contributors in the future.

What's the next step?

Contact us to take the next step in becoming a mentor and changing lives.

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