Family Help Trust Board

Jane Tappenden (Chairperson)

Jane is a partner at local law firm, Cuningham Taylor, where she specialises in property law. She brings a legal perspective to Board matters. She believes that providing assistance at the earliest possible opportunity results in the best outcomes, particularly for children.  These days her greatest teacher is her young daughter.

Jane Tappenden

Don Elder   

Don has 30 years experience in executive management and governance in NZ and internationally  He is currently a director of a number of companies and Chair of Spanbild Holdings Ltd.  He assisted the FHT in strategy areas for several years before joining the Board in 2017

don elder

Dr Lesley Campbell (Deputy Chairperson)

Lesley has over 20 yrs experience across the human services sector, including mental health, family violence, social services and local goverment sectors.  This work has focused on change management, stakeholder engagement, research and policy and strategic development


Judge Noel Walsh
Noel works as a District Court Judge in the Christchurch Family, Youth & Criminal courts. He practised Law in Christchurch and New Plymouth, worked as a Relationships Services counsellor in New Plymouth, and in 1999 was appointed as a District Court Judge.

Noel Walsh

Beatrice Cheer
Beatrice has a background in media and communications with experience in New Zealand and New York City. Most recently she has specialised in event marketing. Beatrice is married with a young son.  She is also the Chairperson of the FHT Funding Committee

Beatrice Cheer

Charles Knibb (treasurer)
Charles is a Chartered Accountant of some 28 years, currently a sole practitioner. He has a particular interest in achieving something better in life for children, than what we constantly are reading in the media.

Charles Knibb

Yvonne Chrichton-Hill (PhD candidated) Yvonne is Samoan and joined the FHT board in 2013.  She has a wealth of experience in the family violence sector, particularly with the PI population. A long standing expert in social work practice and a previous Chairperson of the Pacific Trust, Canterbury.



Janetta Skiba
Janetta is a registered nurse with a background in acute care nursing including Intensive Care and Paediatrics. Janetta has held both senior health management and advisory roles, and brings the skills of a health professional, an administrator, and a background of volunteer work in NGOs to the Trust.


The following people are previous Chairpersons of the Family Help Trust                                                      

Elizabeth Chesterman

Elizabeth Chesterman 2013 - 2017
Liz first joined the Board to represent the Rotary Club of Christchurch. FHT's mission and values fitted with her own in 2013 and still do in 2017.

Liz is very proud FHT is held up around New Zealand and internationally as a successful model of child abuse prevention based on professional and relaible otcome data.

"I look forward to watching the future of FHT, and will continue to staunchly support and advocate for the Trust"

Annabel Taylor

Dr Annabel Taylor 2006 - 2013
Dr Taylor has been a major influence on the research direction that Family Help Trust has taken for over ten years.  At the time of her resignation as Chairperson she was a senior lecturer in the Social Work Department at Canterbury Uni, and with background in community and prison social work, she teaches social policy and social work practice, is on the Benefit Review Committee in Christchurch, and is Director of the Awatea Violence Research Centre. 

Sally Thompson

Sally Thompson QSM, 2000 - 2006
Sally is an Early Childhood educator with wide interests, particularly in out-of-school care, parenting and the disability sector. Sally has a strong interest in local government and represented Shirly Papanui Community Board for a number of years as well as completing a term as a City Councillor.  She was a member of the Canterbury Community Trust (2007-2011) and is currently a trustee of the Marrolomeda Trust, a board member of the Styx Living Laboratory and a member of Victim Support local committee.  A nana of four wonderful grandchildren. 

Paul Fitzharris

Paul Fitzharris, 1996 - 2000
During the early 1990s as the District Commander of Police for Christchurch, Paul looked for programmes outside the Government sector that promised most to the community in reducing crime. "I saw that the Family Help Trust offered this - not from a gut feeling, but because it was supported through reputable research and offered then the best programmes to not only achieve this, but also provide broader positive outcomes for families and the community."

Karen Guilliland MNZM, 1993 - 1996
Karen has been a long time leader of midwifery in New Zealand, and as such was a most appropropiate Chairperson for Family Help Trust given her absolute commitment to the health and welfare of infants and children.  Since those early days Karen has gained significant experience in board directorships, advisory groups and policy development for maternity services.  (2012) She is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand College of Midwives. 

George Walker 1991 - 1993
Geoge was on the original steering committee that developed what was then called the Christchurch Theraputic Trust, changing its name to Family Help Trust in 1994.   He has several directorates with successful local compaanies and for over 40 years, until his retirement, was Senior Director of Walker Davey a well known firm of accountants with a history that can be traced back to 1923.   


Harry Eyre-Cohen, 1990 - 1991
Harry was the first Chairperson of the Family Help Trust and was an original core group member of the steering committee during the establishment phase. Harry's primary interest, as a retired Clinical Psychologist of the Justice Department South Island region, was the synergy between the importance of infant/mother bonding and assisting chronic offenders take responsibility for their behaviours and to make lasting changes. "I saw Family Help Trust as having the potential to make a serious impact on breaking the cycle for intergenerational criminal offending with their service." Harry died in 2011, much beloved and much missed..