About | Suicide Prevention in Construction | Mates in Construction NZ
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‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari i te toa takitini’

‘My strength is not of a single warrior but that of many’

MATES in Construction has three key focus areas to work towards their vision of significantly improving mental wellness and reducing suicide in the construction industry:

MATES NZ Field Officers


To advance mental health and social services in New Zealand by promoting the prevention and control of mental illness for people engaged in the construction industry. We do this through:

  • Raising awareness of mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention in the workplace.
  • Reducing the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
  • Providing a learning experience that grows knowledge of help seeking behaviours and how to help.
  • To bring together the NZ construction industry to recognize and adopt our uara (values).


Providing leadership for our people to gain better access to mental health services. We do this through:

  • Connecting workers to the best available help and support.
  • Ensuring help is offered that is practical, professional and appropriate.
  • Advocating to improve the services available the construction industry, for more affordable healthcare for our workers.
  • Ensuring language, culture and identity are acknowledged in everything that we do.


    Building a stronger more resilient workforce. We do this through:

    •  Partnering with researchers to inform industry around mental health best practice.
    • Promoting community enablement and a suicide prevention continuum.
    • Enabling our people to grow their capability and access to support to a develop healthier and more sustainable future.

      Why are we so vulnerable?

      Life stresses happen in most people lives, however coupled with stresses created at work, means we are often more vulnerable than others.

      Life event

      Relationship problems

      Pending legal matters

      Finanacial problems


      Recent / pending unemployment

      Work problems


      Child custody disputes

      Other life events

      Workplace issues

      Long working hours

      A culture of heavy alcohol use

      Bullying behaviours

      A culture of not allowing discussion of problems with mates

      A male dominated industry

      Financial management issues

      Lack of job security

      meet the team

      Victoria McArthur MATES in Construction NZ CEO

      Victoria McArthur

      CEO - MATES in Construction NZ

      “I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to introduce MATES into our Construction Industry, here in New Zealand. Building strong communities within our industry is something I am passionate about, and I am also dedicated to promoting well-being and reducing the impact that suicide is having amongst our construction family. I am looking forward to working with all stakeholders to positively impact a reduction in suicide across the construction sector.”     

        027 218 5755      Victoria McArthur

      Gloria Vetekina MATES Case Manager

      Gloria Vetekina

      Case Manager

      “My decision to apply for a position with MATES in Construction NZ was because the ethos and vision of MATES in Construction aligned with everything I was looking for in a job. A program that had evidence to prove that what it does works, the MATES helping MATES moto which translates to industry and into the MATES workplace. The privilege to assist someone with life and finally I am passionate about supporting an industry that has played an integral part in my life.”

      (Ngāpuhi, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Tahu)

        027 313 6663       Gloria Vetekina

      Kevin Everett MATES Operations Manager

      Kevin Everett

      Operations Manager

      “Recently suicide has impacted on my life, I decided it was time my business became more involved in this topic. Mates was the 1st association to come to mind and once I found out more about what Mates offer our industry I knew I wanted to get more involved.

      Maybe not to the extent where I would become one of the team. I also believe things happen for a reason. When I was approached by Victoria about joining the team at Mates, it didn’t take long to say yes.

      I am looking forward to bringing my passion for the industry and our people to Mates and bring success as we develop.

        027 238 7553       Kevin Everett

      Berhampore Peleti MATES Field Officer

      B (Berhampore) Peleti

      Field Officer - CRL Relationship manager

      “I love working for MATES because each day it gives me the opportunity to make positive change with our brothers in the Construction Industry.”

        027 601 3424    

       B Peleti

      Richie Hepi MATES

      Richie Hepi

      Field Officer - CIP Relationship Manager

      “I wanted to be part of the MATES team as it is the only organisation that targets a specific group. My passion is to help people who are struggling with Mental Health issues connecting them to the services that will get them the help they need. Overall, I want to be part of something that makes a difference in reducing suicide not only in our industry, but throughout all our communities in Aotearoa.”

        021 250 7394     

       Richie Hepi

      Slade McFarland MATES Field Officer

      Slade McFarland

      Field Officer - Kainga Ora Relationship Manager

      “I joined MATES in Construction NZ as a Field Officer to help bring awareness to the issue of suicide within the NZ Construction Industry. I am looking forward to working with our partners to help raise that awareness.”

        027 212 8180

       Slade McFarland

      Raman Lee MATES Field Officer

      raman lee

      Field Officer

      “I Joined MATES in Construction as I am wanting to help improve our country’s dreadful suicide statistics working within an organisation making meaningful connection with many New Zealand construction sites and workplaces.”

        021 0243 6249

       Raman Lee

      Erin Witana MATES


      Field officer

      Deciding to join the team at MATES in Construction was an easy decision. The passion to help support the Industry with work/life balance and sharing my own toolbox is a privilege. MATES in Construction offer a Whanau away from home. I’m very passionate and happy to be part of the MATES team, we are dedicated to connecting construction workers with community services, for a better quality of life.”

        027 341 9848    

      Ben Morunga-Toi MATES

      ben morunga-toi

      Field Officer

      “I wanted to be part of an organisation that would make a difference to the ordinary person. MATES in Construction NZ ticked all the boxes; a strong kaupapa, an evidence based program, a supportive network system and message that brings light to the subject of suicide within the construction industry.

      I’m looking forward to connecting with those in the construction industry and helping to make a difference.

        027 379 4106

       Ben Morunga-Toi

      Roger Ko Case Manager

      Roger Ko

      Case Manager

      Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful impact on individuals, families and communities. MATES is all about providing assistance and tools for those in needs.

      I am passionate about making a difference in people’s life, and I picked up counsellor qualification while I am in this journey. It is a rewarding career; I learn and grow from everyone that have connected with me. It is my pleasure to be part of this family and making a difference on multiple levels. I am looking forward to working with this industry and individual.”

        021 160 6535

       Roger Ko

      Margaret Tolhopf Office Administrator MATES in Construction

      margaret tolhopf

      office administrator

      “I am really enjoying working for MATES in Construction assisting Victoria and the team. This team are extremely passionate about mental health and delivering amazing support throughout the industry. I can see them making a real difference which is incredible and my small contribution makes me feel a part of it all.

        021 0904 9289

       Margaret Tolhopf

      Deborah Douglas Administrator MATES in Construction

      deborah douglas

      accounts administrator

      “I enjoy working for MATES In Construction as even though I am working in the background, I still feel I am making a difference for the staff so they can deliver amazing support and awareness to the construction industry in mental health.”

        021 281 1589

      James Lee Creative Assistant MATES in Construction

      james lee

      creative assistant

      “I really enjoy working for MATES in Construction as even the small things that we do can affect the industry in a very positive way. Seeing the effect MATES has in the industry has motivated me to make the change in not only myself but the others around me. The team at MATES are extremely passionate about supporting the industry in improving the quality and perception of mental health, well-being, and providing suicide prevention in construction.”

        021 160 6535

       James Lee

      Meet the Board

      Chris Alderson MIC Board

      Chris Alderson


      “As the CEO of Construction Health and Safety NZ (CHASNZ), the mental health of our 250,000 workers is a top priority. We currently don’t have enough information about why people in the sector suffer from poor mental health, however we do know that the MATES in Construction programme will provide workers with much needed help in the short and long term.

      The focus on general awareness of mental health and suicide, the peer to peer network and the fast-tracking of help for those who need it, all work regardless of the cause of mental health issues.

      Using an established, quality programme and adjusting for unique New Zealand cultural aspects is the basis for my personal and organisational support for MATES in Construction New Zealand.”

      Dan Ashby MIC Board

      Dan Ashby


      Dan is the General Manager of Icon’s
      New Zealand business, which was established in June 2017 and is currently building the 57 story Pacifica residential tower and Wakefield Street student accommodation projects. 

      Throughout his career Dan has been passionate about building and the people who are the foundation of our industry.  Construction is an exciting, but very demanding industry and Dan sees MATES as a key initiative in enhancing the wellbeing of our people “on the ground”.  He welcomes the opportunity to join the Board and is very much looking forward to the positive impact that MATES will have across the industry.

      Chris Lockwood MIC Board

      Chris Lockwood

      Australian National CEO MATES in Construction

      “Having seen firsthand the real impact of MATES which has delivered face to face programmes to over 180,000 workers in Australia, I am passionate about delivering a meaningful reduction in the impact of suicide in NZ communities, as MATES improves the mental health of all of us at work through trusted workplace programmes, individual case management and helpline services.”

      Bill Newson MIC Board

      Bill Newson

      Etu National Secretary | CTU representative | CHASNZ Board of Directors

      “It is a privilege to join other dedicated members of MATES in Construction to work for the well-being of working people in the Construction Industry.  I have personally experienced the lifelong pain and disfigurement of an accident at work, and I have direct family experience of a construction worker suffering depression-related health issues.  We know we have a comparatively high level of mental-health related harm among our construction workforce, I look forward to making a difference”.

      Maurice Davis MIC Board

      Maurice Davis

      National secretary - The Amalgamated Workers Union New Zealand

      “Mates in Construction New Zealand is very relevant in the working environment we find ourselves in.  With all the pressures faced by construction workers both on the job and home to meet deadlines and make ends meet.  Having MATES in Construction there to support people when they are struggling is very important to the New Zealand Construction Industry.”

      Gavin Riddle head and shoulders

      Gavin Riddle


      Leading the Auckland regional team at Fulton Hogan Auckland (around 1,000 employees), Gavin has over 30 years’ experience in Civil Engineering Contracting and Business Management

      Gavin has previously held Governance roles with Omega Civils, Omega Building, Omega Asphalt, Omega Plant Hire and Mastercrete in South Africa. He was appointed to the Rodney Aggregates Supplies Board in 2016. He is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors. He previously served as a Contract Board Member on the West Waikato North Network Outcomes Contract in the Waikato for the New Zealand Transport Agency. He has previously served as the Branch Chair of the Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) Bay of Plenty Branch and is now a member of the CCNZ Auckland Branch Committee.

      Chris Bowden MATES photo

      Dr. Chris Bowden

      Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington

      Chris received his PhD in Health from Victoria University of Wellington in 2017. His PhD focused on understanding young men’s experience of losing a close male friend to suicide. Chris completed his undergraduate studies in education and psychology at Otago University focusing on child and adolescent development.

      Chris has been lecturing in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington since 2004. He teaches in the undergraduate BA Education and MEdPsych post-grad programmes. Chris has been working in the area of suicide prevention and postvention for two decades. He provides community and professional education locally and nationally and works closely with suicide prevention and postvention services providing advice and guidance.

      He has authored many government reports on suicide prevention; presented conference papers, symposia and hui. He developed New Zealand’s first nation-wide psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide (Waves) in conjunction with Skylight Trust. Chris co-facilitated this programme for many years using his educational skills to help people learn about grief and how to cope with suicide bereavement. He has now turned his focus to conducting evaluative research on the programme and its impact.


      MATES in Construction NZ being an evidence-based workplace suicide prevention model, developed to reduce high suicide rates in the NZ Construction Industry.

      We evaluate, test and research the work done ensuring shared learning efficiency. All programmes delivered by MATES in Construction are evaluated with feedback and analysis being incorporated into content as appropriate.

      MICNZ Suicide Prevention Field Officer

      NZ Construction Industry related Research


      Further work is needed to widen the scope and application of the programme to the wider construction industry.

      How do we make this happen?


      MATES in Construction working alongsise CHASNZ under the Construction Sector Accord to develop and deliver a mental heath in construction stratgey.


      • Dr Kate Bryson – Director and Principal Researcher at Axon Consulting – will be appointed as Academic Director for MATES in Construction.
      • Dr Bryson’s most recent research has focused on the construction industry where she has been examining factors that might be contributing to poor mental health and suicide for the New Zealand construction workforce. Kate was Lead Researcher and co-author of the recent study that analysed the coronial reports for suicides in the NZ Construction Industry.
      • Dr Bryson will lead a team and the first piece of research Improving the uptake of mental health support in the NZ construction sector for suicide prevention will be supported by BRANZ and supervised through Victoria University.

      BRANZ Report

      The 2018 BRANZ Mental Health in the Construction Industry scoping study was commissioned to better understand the suicide risk for construction workers.

      Read the BRANZ Report here >

      Nga Rahui Hau Kura Suicide Mortality Review Committee 

      Every week on average, 10 New Zealanders die by suicide. Many more are treated in hospital after a suicide attempt, having seriously harmed themselves. Sadly, we have some of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD and suicide rate for Māori are over 50 percent higher than for non-Māori.

      Read the Nga Rahui Hau Suicide Mortality Review here >

      Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures

      The future is now: Implications of Covid-19 for New Zealand >

      Become a MATES in Construction NZ Partner