Frank Bristol

Poutu Whakahaere - General Manager & Lead Consumer Advisor

Frank is a 4th generation Whanganui citizen and has worked as a partner in a horticultural operation "Bristol Plants & Seeds" with his late wife Joy for most of his working life. They specialise in vegetable seed and plant growing but perhaps are best publicly known for their work with “Whanganui in Bloom”.

Since 2004 Frank has been increasingly involved in developing community based peer run Mental Health services. He has been a speaker on self-management at various Mental Health conferences in NZ, Australia, United Kingdom, USA and Canada in the last nine years. He is a keen and passionate facilitator of approaches based on self-care, relationship-care and community-care philosophies embodied in Intentional Peer Support and the Facilitation of Self-Determination and believes his lived experience makes him more effective in life rather than less.

Frank is the current manager of Balance Aotearoa and the Balance Whanganui Peer Support team which provides peer support and consultancy services to the Whanganui DHB area. Through Balance he is contracted to provide consumer leadership, consultancy and liaison for Whanganui DHB’s Mental Health and Addictions Service.

Frank is also a member of the Whanganui DHB Board Advisory Combined Advisory Committees. Amongst other local, regional and national working groups he is also on the National Te Pou/Ministry of Health Mental Health & Addiction Information and Clinical Reference Group. He also enjoyed being part of the On-Track publication development as a steering group member.

"I am currently a member of the Consumer Advisory Group to the Board of the HQSC (Health Quality Safety Commission) and involved with the HQSC MHA quality improvement programs in various position both at a national and local level".

Rana Aston

Umanga Tukumahi – Service Manager

After spending many years in and out of psychiatric care Rana was offered peer support in her early twenties and to this day believes this is how she discovered that she could create a life worth living. Seeing people with lived experience living a life they wanted and achieving things that they were told they couldn't, gave Rana inspiration to live her best life.

She went on to study university level and graduating with several qualifications including a BHSc (Even after dropping out of school at 14), she worked in allied health/rehabilitative medicine for five or six years before coming to work at Balance. Rana has had one short psychiatric admission in the last ten years rather than every other week due to learning self management, wellness tools and gaining confidence in living life.

Rana has been working with Balance to support rural people, runs practical workshops in mindfulness and wellness tools, and works as a Peer Support Worker in Te Awhina at Whanganui Hospital. She loves working with people to discover their potential, gain hope, strength and a renewed sense of self.


Victoria Butler

Umanga Kaihoe - Business Administrator

My journey with Balance began in 2010. I had spent my life battling mood fluctuations of highs and lows. Since beginning at Balance I have married my lovely husband and have had 2 beautiful children. I took some time out for this.

My passion is keeping the behind the scenes work happening, administration. My second passion is the people we work with. Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and Intentional Peer Support are the basis underpinning my work and personal life. Running WRAP courses is my passion – there is power in a good wellness plan – staying in control of our own health.

I have the luxury of a mixed role so get to spend some time with you – through Peer Support.

David Mason

At Balance I feel a sense of belonging with other people as well as being a part of the environment. I believe I have a strong ability to listen to people as well as to invite the different cultures that come to Balance. 

Jamie Wildermoth

Jamie has joined our Balance team.  Jamie was with us last year.  He has returned to the team. 


 Sue Birchall

Sue has recently joined the Balance Team.  Sue is qualified with a Certificate in Mental Health and Wellbeing.


Ben Olsen

Ben has just joined our team.  His area of focus is the rural community.  Ben is currently studying towards his Certificate in Mental Health Peer Support.


Shane Thomas


Shane enjoys working as a co-facilitator of Turuki Turuki Paneke Paneke, Balance's lifestyle management programme, and being a peer support worker. He likes to work alongside other staff and learn from their experience. Shane enjoys supporting the AOD group with Balance members and also doing the Art Activities on Thursday. Shane likes taking part in any training courses Balance provides.

Shane has a strong belief that everyone is equal and enjoys the mutuality within Balance. He works well as a team leader as well as a team player.

Sonny Te Huia

Kia Ora Mai Tatau
Kahui mai te Maunga ki Tangaroa, ko au te awa, te awa ko au.
The river runs from the Mountain to the sea, I Am The River, The River is Me.

Greetings one and all, my name is Sonny Te Huia. For the last few years I have had the privilege of walking side by side with Tangata Whenua less fortunate then myself.

In 2013 I studied for my Mental Health Certificate at UCOL as a Support Worker. My mahi is in Mental Health with many variables in Support Work, such as Patient Advocate in an Acute Unit on the grounds of Whanganui DHB and systemic advocacy. This mahi allowed me to sit at the table with a team of health professionals on a weekly basis where some meaningful discussions take place regarding the well-being of our service users. I now work in the community and in Te Awhina the inpatient unit. I would like to acknowledge Balance Whanganui for where I am today and the support that I have received from both staff and management.

Mauri ora,
Sonny Te Huia