More mental wellbeing support for Te Anau community

5 Sep 2023


A second part-time Community Wellbeing Co-ordinator has been appointed to provide more support for the Te Anau community as it prepares to head into the busy summer season.

Alexa Smith, who’s lived in Southland for the last eight years, joins Te Anau local Anna Star this week doubling Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group’s resource to share information about wellbeing concerns, monitoring the capacity of mental health services and coordinate wellbeing initiatives in the district.

Te Hau Toka Fiordland Representative Sarah Greaney, who is also a Southland District Councillor and local business owner, says as one of the hardest hit communities in New Zealand, Te Anau still faces enormous challenges and it had been clear that the Community Wellbeing Co-ordinator role had become a position that needed to be full-time.

“We’re a pretty isolated community, and the rural community is even more so. We’re very pleased that with the generous support of Great South, Te Hau Toka has been able to find a Community Wellbeing Co-ordinator with Alexa’s strong background in the rural community.

Originally from the Isle of Man, Alexa has worked in mental health supporting people with head injuries and helping raise mental health awareness in schools. She has extensive large-scale events and volunteer management experience and a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences and Psychology. Alexa is also a Northern Southland Regional Leader for the Dairy Women's Network (since 2019) and is on the Mossburn Primary School Board of Trustees.

Alexa is excited about the opportunity to return to her first passion.

“I’m excited to be back working in mental health, and I think the last few years living rurally here have given me some useful experience to bring to the role. Through our farming business, I’ve helped non-English speaking migrants settle into New Zealand, and as a migrant myself, I know some of those isolation challenges as well,” says Alexa.

Alexa is married with two young daughters and is looking forward to finding out what she can do to support positive wellbeing in the community.

Ben Lewis, Great South General Manager Business Services Development says the Great South team welcomed having a second community wellbeing coordinator based in its Te Anau office.

“We’ve gained a greater overall understanding of where the needs and possible gaps are in the community and having this role to facilitate deeper community connections is incredibly helpful.

The new role is funded by Te Hau Toka and Alexa Smith works with Anna Star, in the Great South office in Te Anau.