Our Team

Mentors make an invaluable difference to the lives of boys without a father in their lives, simply by being there a few hours each week. Creating the professional environment for mentors to encourage confidence and well-being in their Little Buddies takes a fair bit of time, experience and lots of good intentions. Meet the team that brings it all together.

A dedicated team

The Big Buddy operational team consists of full and part-time staff such as our CEO, Programme Manager and area Coordinators. 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 mentor for every fatherless boy that needs one, and the heart and determination to achieve it.

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


team june 2018

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

- Programme 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.

Andrew McFadden Big Buddy Hamilton

Andrew McFadden

- Mentoring Manager for Hamilton

Andrew is married to Joanne and is a father to three children. Originally from Australia, Andrew now calls New Zealand home and has lived in Hamilton for the past 15 years. Andrew is a professional coach, facilitator and trainer, having worked in the corporate, not-for-profit, community and education sectors.

When he isn’t busy working or playing taxi driver for his children, Andrew can found chasing great surf along the beautiful New Zealand coastline, paddle boarding lakes and rivers or sitting under a shady tree enjoying a good book.

Andrew is passionate about creating lasting change in the lives of others through the delivery of quality programs that provide meaningful and tangible benefits.

Staff & Contractors

Sally Webster

Sally Webster

- Media & Communications Coordinator

Sally is a Writer, Publicist & Communicator who is thrilled to count Big Buddy as her principal client. Years of journalism honed Sally's interest and skill in identifying personal and societal ills and sharing them in the hope of making a difference. Moving into publicity and media communications meant she could effect positive and ideally lasting change more directly, in the lives of those who need it.

Having previously experienced ten years as a single mum of two, Sally has plenty of empathy for the female carers who ask us to find mentors for their boys. Her vision for the future is to bring Big Buddy into the consciousness of every adult New Zealander.

smaller file Let face

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.


Maggie Tulisi

- Programme and Events Coordinator

Maggie comes to Big Buddy from her role as Family Enrollment Coordinator and Payroll Administrator at Evolve Education Group. She has been a proud supporter of Big Buddy for several years, having got to know the organisation through her husband, Pa, who is a Big Buddy himself. They share the parenting of an adult daughter. Maggie teaches Siva Samoa to a group of girls in West Auckland and is passionate about supporting community initiatives.


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.

Kim (2)

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.


travis field v2

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.

Wally Thomas

Wally Thomas

- Trustee

Married, with 2 grown sons, Wally has been a trustee since 2004. He is the General Manager – Communications at Auckland Transport. He can’t sing, cook or write poetry as the rest of the team (claim to!!??) do. But he is a huge sports fan, an all-round decent bloke and committed to Big Buddy “100%”.

What's the next step?

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

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