Our History

Where Mirror Began

Aroha Ki Te Tamariki was registered as a Charitable Trust in March 1991 and established its first service the ‘Mirror Project’. A counselling service for children & young people at risk from family breakdown, alcohol, drugs, abuse, and violence and employed one full time counsellor.

Initial funding came from the Health Funding Authority (HFA), Community Funding Agency, Child Youth & Family, and the Department of Justice.

In 1994 and 1997 increasing demand and increases in funding allowed for the development of the Service and the new name of Mirror Counselling Service was introduced.

In 1999 the office moved to Evan Parry House and staffing had increased to 6 counsellors and 1 Manager/Counsellor.

Even with these increases in staffing, Mirror was unable to meet the demand and had an extensive waiting list. An independent review was conducted to reduce the wait list, as a result a further development occurred, and 2 intake/brief intervention workers and Māori worker were employed.


In 2000 the Trust was successful in their bid to set up a day programme for young people with moderate to severe alcohol and drug issues in the Otago and Southland area. Three full time staff were employed, and the Programme started its first intake of young people in March 2001 this increased to four staff with the addition of a Whānau therapist role in 2020. The programme is housed in Waitati and is based on a therapeutic community model and additionally developed a kaupapa Māori framework in response to the needs of the client group.

Other various increases in staffing occurred over the next decade for the counselling service, however, a significant success was winning the tender to provide a Primary Level Mental Health Contract for the Ministry of Social Development in 2013. This Service delivers a case management approach to children in the care of Oranga Tamariki, by a team of 3 staff across the Southern District who work with tamariki and their whānau.

In 2014 the Trust was also successful in being awarded a contract to be one of two pilot sites in Aotearoa NZ, to provide a Youth Exemplar Service (Mirror HQ). This specialist Youth Alcohol and Other Drug service provides coexisting problem (CEP) enhanced alcohol and other drug services for young people aged 12 - 25 years of age. This service is for the Southern District Health Board region. The initiative was one of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Projects and after a formulative evaluation became a permanent contract.

Other initiatives Mirror Services provides leadership in are community-based training, community awareness campaigns, forums, and projects. One of these is Tūturu which has been provided since 2018, Tūturu is a systems change project which helps New Zealand schools take meaningful action to improve the wellbeing of their students. It is designed to increase critical thinking skills, decision-making confidence; and offering proactive support to young people who need it. Tūturu’s first area of focus is alcohol and other drugs. 


In 2021 we are pleased to be able to provide counselling in schools and have embarked on providing this to one school in Invercargill. This opportunity to increase counselling in school environments is an exciting development and we are pleased the Ministry of Education is increasing access for children to counselling in their school environment.

Due to the need to diversify over the last five years Mirror Services has been able to provide a range of other services. These include FASD, Mokopuna Ora and additional counselling services because of increasing demand. Mirror Services is currently funded by the Southern District Health Board, Oranga Tamariki, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Dept. Community Corrections, Ministry of Education, Otago Community Trust, NZ Drug Foundation, Dept Internal Affairs, and private donations, to whom we are extremely grateful too.

Today Mirror Services engages the services of approximately 32 staff, interacting with more the 800 clients and whānau members annually and well over a 3000 in community and school-based initiatives.