Our People


Our counsellors are all members of the New Zealand Association of Counsellors.

Janet Robertson

Janet has been a counsellor in community agencies since 2008. She particularly enjoys working with older people, with the life experience they bring to the challenges they face.

She is a long-time Wellington resident, having brought up a family here. Janet has travelled widely and is interested in tramping, gardening, reading and spending time with family and friends.

Edmund Salem


Edmund was born in Newtown, Wellington and grew up and studied in the city. He is Latvian on his mother’s side, Austrian on his father’s, and his stepfather was Lebanese. Edmund was brought up rich in language and culture and he has worked extensively as a counsellor in a variety of education settings and with community groups. Prior to WellElder, Edmund worked at Victoria University in Wellington as part of the team counselling students. 

Edmund considers counselling is about relationships and an exploration of the many challenges we face in life. He likes to think he brings hope as well as humour to his counselling work and is interested in exploring dreams and imagination and is a passionate student of history. Outside of counselling Edmund enjoys most sports, particularly tennis and hiking and is a keen chess player who also enjoys looking at works of art. 

Sarah Wright

 Sarah has been counselling since 2017 in a variety of settings, and with a wide range of age groups. Sarah is passionate about drawing on a range of counselling approaches to meet the individual needs of her clients. In her spare time Sarah enjoys spending time taking care of and connecting to nature and tending to her garden.

Laura Hurtado-Roberts

Laura has a Graduate Diploma in Counselling Practice and is a practitioner in developmental movement therapy [Extra Lesson™], an educational approach to neuro-development and child development. Experienced in working with parents, children and young people. Laura provides counselling for women, men of all ages and couples experiencing loss and grief, abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression, pain from chronic illness, transitioning through life stages.

Using a person-centred approach and inspired by the ideas of Viktor Frankl, Laura works with warmth, non-judgmental acceptance and deep listening in order to create a sacred and safe space with the client. Using stories, art, movement, play therapy, sensory integration, body awareness and mindfulness as a way to strengthen the client’s personal needs in their journey toward self-affirmation and self-discovery.

Laura has a PhD in social sciences from EHESS (Paris, France) which supports her understanding that clients are individuals existing in the wider context of their society and culture, demonstrated through working with people from many cultural backgrounds. She speaks Spanish and French as well, and honours Te Tiriti of Waitingi.

WellElder Office

Constanze Schwind – Client Manager


Constanze comes from a background in publishing and working in different coordinator roles. After looking after her children she is now enjoying being part of the WellElder team. She lives in Newtown and has two school-aged children. In her free time she enjoys the great outdoors.

Nicky Newton, Office Manager

Nicky has a doctorate in psychology (with a focus on personality and ageing) from the University of Michigan, and has held teaching positions in the United States and Canada. After 22 years away, she returned home to Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2022, and has worked with researchers from the Health and Ageing Research Team (HART) and the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study. She welcomes the challenge of moving away from the academic world to focus on more practical applications of her expertise, and to support older adults’ well-being more directly. Nicky lives with her partner and two beautiful cats in Wellington.

Frances Mountier – Office Administrator

Francie comes from a background in administration and community organisations. She lives in Newtown with her partner and their two children. She enjoys working with people.

Board of Trustees

Board members volunteer their time to WellElder.

Diana O'Neill (Chairperson)

Diana has many years of experience in the sport, recreation, and health sector.

Diana has had a passion for the health of older people since the early 1990s when, while working for the Hillary Commission for Recreation and Sport, she helped set up the Fifties Forward initiative which included a television series and implementation of physical activity programmes for older people throughout New Zealand. She was also involved with the Green Prescription (GRx) health initiative for 20 years from inception, including its transfer from Sport and Recreation NZ to the Ministry of Health in 2009.

Diana has been a member of the NZ Association of Gerontology (NZAG) for many years, including as a board member at regional and national levels. She joined the WellElder Board in 2018 and has been Chair since early 2020.

Diana's physical activity plan now includes walking, tai chi, aqua fitness, and cycling.

Jane Henson

A counsellor for over 30 years, Jane is a life member of NZAC. She juggles her private practice with looking after her delightful grandson.

With a background in secondary and tertiary education, her passion is "helping people become the person they wish to be".

She joined the WellElder Board in 2012.

Daphne Pilaar

Daphne was born and raised in Wellington to Dutch parents. She lives in Newtown with her husband Keith and has five adult children and three grandchildren.

Daphne has spent most of her working life in education – as a primary school teacher, adult educator and facilitator of projects focused on improving the wellbeing of both young and old.

She is an active member of Drama Christi – a community theatre, and Crows Feet – a women's dance collective with wonderful, wise and inspiring elders.

Judy Glackin

Judy has a broad interest in older people's health, and in-depth knowledge of how the government health sector works.

She was for many years Manager Health of Older People in the Ministry of Health. She led the team that developed the initial Health of Older People Strategy.

In her role as a programme manager, Older People's Wellness with ACC she did the development work on the nationwide programme, Live Stronger for Longer, which focuses on falls prevention for older people.

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