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About Us!

Mel Haarer

Founder - Connect and Care NZ, Wellbeing provider, Facilitator, Speaker

Originally from Devon in the UK, Mel has lived in Queenstown for 15 years and is proud to now call herself an NZ citizen.  She studied Leisure and Tourism Management at North London University and holds other qualifications within the care industry to include “at risk” vulnerable youth across private and public sectors.  Highly empathetic, emotional intelligence is her most valuable personal and professional asset.


Mel’s passion now lies within the wellbeing space “empowering people to lead their healthiest happiest lives”.  She prides herself in being the best solo mum she can be.  She loves connecting people, laughing, driving positive social change, mindful rest, travel, hiking and yummy food.  She’s takes her wellbeing advocacy work very seriously, collaborating with others who support her mission


2017:  Mel had an idea to create a “connection army” after an extended period of seven years of complicated loss and grief. Keen to channel her experiences into more positive living she spent 18 months voluntarily researching ways to reduce isolation and vulnerability for others within the Wakatipu community.  


2018:  Mel fortunately received an invitation to raise mental health awareness amongst the employee teams of one of NZ’s iconic tourism players in Queenstown.  From here she founded CONNECT and CARE NZ, providing a social change making service to a growing number of other major NZ businesses.  


Mel founded Stig’s Army during Covid 19 lockdown, 2020.  An online educational platform well respected by social agencies, recognised to help bridge community social need gap.  

Mels Credentials and Qualifications include:

  • Delivery of over 100 workshops with 100's of people helped through our programmes

  • Mindfulness in New Zealand two day facilitation training

  • Mental Health First Aid trained, St John NZ

  • MH101 Training, Ministry of Health

  • Additction 101 Training, Ministry of Health

  • SFANZ Suicide First Aid, A-OK, NZ

  • Suicide Prevention Training, Lifekeeper NZ

  • Beneath the Surface - Loss and Grief Awareness, Southern District Health Board, NZ

  • Otago & Southland Breastfeeding Peer Support Training - Wellsouth, NZ

  • NVQ Caring for Young People & Children Level 3, At risk/Vulnerable youth, UK

  • BA Hons, Leisure & Tourism Management, UK

  • HND Business & Finance, UK

  • BTECH National Diploma, Sport and Physical Recreation, UK

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Our Purpose

  • Empowering people to lead their healthiest happiest lives

  • Connect people to people

  • Reduce stigma around poor mental health

  • Encouraging advocacy 


Our Unique Selling Points

  • Our approach focuses on values based ADVOCACY

  • Diverse and inclusive educational platforms 

  • Empathetic 

  • Realistic

  • Practical

  • Open, honest, safe

Our Wellbeing Services

  • 1:1 private coaching for individuals

  • Workshops: workplace and community

  • Team Building

  • Strategic Planning

  • Event & Conference Key Note & Guest Speaking



We understand the importance of our broad multi-cultural demographics in Aotearoa and respect our native Maori heritage and ancestry. We’ve delivered over 100 programmes to businesses working in:

government, construction, tourism, transport, aviation, security, airline, education, social agency

Our workshops are:

  • Educational

  • Practical & Fun

  • Safe


Why Collaborate With Connect And Care

  • Experience and proven track record positions us strongly

  • Creative thinking and knowledge of systemic advocacy allows us to plan, implement and measure outcomes aligning with desired wellbeing outcomes

  • Multi sector experience – public and private sectors

  • Impressive whanau engagement: whanau on this page

  • We recognise mental health and wellbeing as no quick fix

  • We use an emotionally intelligent creative lens

  • Public Liability Insurance 

  • Registered Service Provider with the Regional Business Partners Funding Network

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