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 married to Maryanne and is a proud dad to Brooke, Caleb and Aston. He feeds, walks and pats Baxter and Tobee (dogs). Paul grew up in the UK, Singapore and East Auckland and feels privileged to be part of a team making a real difference at Big Buddy. Paul is a ‘chef by trade’ and a qualified football referee and enjoys the challenge of building trust and respect with players and coaches during a match. He has very fond memories of mowing the lawns and cutting the edges by hand with his dad and one day wants a ride-on mower. He has a real soft spot for great cafes and acronyms.



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 lives in Upper Hutt with his wife Judith. They have 2 daughters & he is a proud grandfather to his 4 grandchildren. He came to Big Buddy from a 25-year teaching career. He is an avid fisherman & you will often find him fishing some the rugged beaches of the Wairarapa coast.

Martin Hosking

Martin Hosking

- Mentoring Manager for Central Auckland 

Martin Hosking is our Central area Mentoring Manager and has been with Big Buddy for over 10 years. He has been involved in men’s group work for 20 years. He lives in Westmere with his partner Pam, has two sons who are well grown-up, and a wonderful granddaughter. He enjoys music, is an avid cyclist, and has recently bought a tinny to get out fishing on the Waitemata.

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 over a decade and loves 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.


Ariana Carswell

- Brand Manager

Ariana was born and raised in Auckland and was thrilled to join the Big Buddy team in 2020. She has previous experience in print media, advertising and marketing, but had always been passionate about getting into the non-for-profit sector. Getting the word of Big Buddy out to people and in turn making a difference in the lives of our boys is truly fulfilling for her.

In her spare time Ariana enjoys sunny days at the beach, dancing, listening to music and hanging out with her friendly house cat.


Russell Joyce

- Fundraiser

Russell lives in Cambridge with his wife Janine. He has two grown-up children, one living in Scotland and the other working in Wellington. He is a keen cyclist, regular yogi and he enjoys learning Mandarin. He runs online language classes, teaching English in exchange for lessons in Chinese. He also teaches English face-to-face, helping recent migrants and refugees improve their language skills. At Big Buddy he helps find the grants and donations we need to keep our mission going.

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Kim Bramwell

- Finance Manager

Kim proudly joined the Big Buddy team approximately 10 years ago. Married to Carl, they have 2 adult children - a son & daughter, living locally and overseas.

Living in West Auckland, Kim enjoys her local community and the beauty of the Manukau Harbour & West Coast beaches. In her spare time she loves getting together with family & friends, boating, and spending time on creative projects.

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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 dog, 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 various growth-focussed 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 and loves her work. She has been specialising in employment law for the past 25 years and is a founder and partner of BE Employment Law in the CBD. Emma is trusted advisor to many public, private and not for profit organisations and puts this experience and expertise to work in her role as trustee with Big Buddy.

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.

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