MEET THE TEAM
Once renowned as 'Scary Mary' for her fearless feats on a dirt bike, Mary Wanhill had to chart a new course after a career-ending injury in 2009. Since then, Mary and her husband have devoted their time and energy to establish the impressive organization, Youth Encounter Ministries Trust. Mary's fervor lies in empowering youth to overcome life's hurdles and unleash their potential.
Serving as the CEO at Youth Encounter, Mary leverages her counseling diploma to lead the organisation in facilitating activities that are blended with a therapeutic approach. Her keen insights and leadership skills effectively connect with young individuals, fostering vibrant community bonds and powerful connections. Explore more about Mary's journey by clicking here.
Joel Wanhill has been heavily involved with Youth Encounter since the time of inception. Along with Mary, Joel is a co-founder of this organisation, and since the acquisition of our Home Base property in mid-2021, Joel has become a permanent member of our staff as facility manager. With his experience and knowledge, Joel also assists the team where needed covering roles from emergency care to activity instructing. Joel loves facilitating growth in all parts of this organisation, whether it be the people or property.
After being a long-time friend of Mary’s and watching the incredible journey of Youth Encounter, we were delighted when Taz joined the team in July 2023. With a heart and vision to help the young people of Aotearoa and a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Geography, Māori and Pacific Development and Environmental Planning, she is perfect in her role as Operations Coordinator.
Maree joined our team in October 2019 and is currently our funding coordinator and administrator. Her background in banking, admin, and TESOL teaching makes her a perfect fit for this role.
Maree and her husband Ilkka have three adult children and a son-in-law who have all participated in Encounter Camps and Ride Days over the years.
"I love being involved in an organisation that is making a positive difference in the lives of our young people."
Ethan first got involved in Youth Encounter when he began attending camps in his early teens. Since November 2021, he has been a valued member of our full-time staff and is now taking the lead with all things activity/safety related in the Activity Coordinator role.
"Encounter pushes and encourages me to learn and grow, which enables me to influence and journey with young people to see changes and growth in their lives and see them unleash their God-given potential."
We had the pleasure of recruiting Airdrie onto the team at Encounter in August 2023 as our client navigator. Since then, she has taken up the role of mentoring coordinator, ensuring this programme runs smoothly. Not only does she organise our mentoring programme, but Airdrie also provides cherished guidance and support for our mentors.
"I love being part of a team who go about helping rangatahi through connection and acceptance - the long term holistic strategy to knowing who they are. Dirt bike riding is an added bonus!!!"
Kyan joined the Youth Encounter team in May 2023 as a part of our activity team and is involved with instructing and managing equipment. Kyan spent several years as an instructor at a Camp in the Waikato and has qualifications that support his role here. He is passionate about interacting with young people and seeing them grow through activity.
Justin started coming to our camps in 2018, and soon after, he began volunteering for Youth Encounter. He has completed a Bachelors Degree in Sport, Health and Human Performance, majoring in sports coaching and development. In November 2022, he joined the team full-time as one of our activity instructors and is responsible for coordinating our monthly Connect gatherings.
Justin’s motivation for working at Youth Encounter comes from seeing change in young people’s lives and how grateful they are for being given these opportunities.
After being involved in youth mentoring throughout the Tauranga area, Powhiri joined the team at Youth Encounter, as a youth mentor, in December 2020 after having a couple of his mentees engage in our Dirt Bike Therapy course with Mary.
As a former professional rugby league player, Powhiri recognises the positive impact his coaches and mentors had on his life in getting to the place he is today. He channels this in his mentoring and aspires to be this person for our rangatahi.
Emily joined the Youth Encounter team in September 2023 and has brought with her a wealth of knowledge about youth and how their minds work. With Emily currently completing a conjoint Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology and a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology, she is a huge asset to helping the team make informed decisions on the best way to engage with our awesome rangatahi. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her friends and family, visiting the beach, sewing, reading, and being with animals.
Joel boarded the Encounter team in June 2023 as one of our youth mentors. His interest was first piqued when he witnessed some of the team working with young people at a dirt bike track. A friend then introduced him. Joel loves helping our young people reach their full potential and live life wide open.
In his free time, you’ll find him spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, being active, and in the outdoors.
Gemma van Huenen
Gemma joined us in October 2022 as a youth mentor.
“Hey I'm Gemma! I am studying a Bachelor of Social Work at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and I love spending my time with youth. I have been involved in youth and children's ministry for several years now and enjoy every aspect of it. I love a good challenge and being adventurous.”
Brooke had her first interaction with Youth Encounter as a Ladies' Learn to Ride Day participant in 2018. She loved it so much that she decided to intern with us in 2019 as part of her Bachelor of Counselling at Bethlehem Tertiary Institute. She has been a part of our Youth Encounter whānau ever since and is now on our counselling team.
Bill Tissingh - Chairperson
Bill is married to Ngaire and they have seven daughters, four sons, a whaangai daughter and (at last count) 18 grandchildren. He has been involved as a primary principal for seven years; a director of a child and family support service for six years and has served on numerous governance boards including the local college for four terms, three as chair, a local Christian camp for nearly 40 years - mostly as chair, and a local Christian primary school which he led the establishment of. He also serves on the national board of Christian Camping NZ.
Bill has a wide range of community involvement as is often associated with being the pastor of a Christian church in a rural community. He has a lifetime interest in young people and seeing them thrive through the challenges of life.
Paul is currently working in his own business called Effective Influence. His primary work includes Coaching and Mentoring for business and individuals. Paul has a depth of business experience to support strategic direction and brings a wide range of skills and experience to the YEMT team. His interest and passion is in organisational growth and sustainability with a focus towards HR and Health and Safety governance. He also enjoys time with his wife, and a growing family of grandchildren at the beach and adventuring in the outdoors. Paul has been part of a number of different boards over the past 10 years, three of which were NFP. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors in NZ and has completed the one-week directors course run by the IOD.
Andrew & Fiona Clements
Andrew is one of the directors at Grayson Clements Lawyers in Hamilton, and a Notary Public. His qualifications are LL.B/BA & TEP. Andrew acts for enterprise, institutional and private wealth clients both domestically and internationally. His focus includes structural design, trusts and succession. Andrew’s work includes setting and implementing structural strategies to allow enterprise expansion and succession, multigenerational succession, and philanthropic initiatives. He seeks to balance work life with family life with his lovely wife, Fiona, four adult children (plus in-laws) and three grandchildren. He is in touch with today’s youth culture and has a passion to see them reach their full potential in life.
Royce is a past manager at Tui Ridge Park and Lakes Ranch Christian Camps. College principal – qualified teacher. Royce is currently the principal at Paeroa Christian School and lead teacher of the local 10-school Kahui Ako group. He is married and has five children. His great leadership qualities are bringing fresh insights to Youth Encounter.
Greg was sharemilking on a dairy farm at Pukehina WBOP for many years. However, he is now the owner/operator of a kiwifruit orchard in Welcome Bay on the outskirts of Tauranga. Greg is married to Heather and they have three adult children, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren. Greg has put his hands to many practical projects and enjoys the adventure of outdoor work and hobbies. Greg is involved in Youth Encounter at an operational level as well as governance. He is an open and willing learner, enjoys engaging in new challenges and loves getting alongside youth who bring their challenges and help guide them to find a better way forward in their lives.
Jo Watson - Treasurer
Jo is a qualified accountant and currently works for Deloitte New Zealand in Hamilton. She has been involved in overseas and local mission work with children and young people and has a heart to see change but an understanding of what it takes behind the scenes. Jo believes she has a calling to use her accounting skills in the not-for-profit sector and is growing in her development of this calling.