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Skylight resources give strength in times of loss

Heather Henare
Skylight CEO, Heather Henare

Skylight is the name everyone should have up their sleeve for the time they or someone they know faces a time of grief, loss or trauma.

The national not-for-profit organisation’s purpose is to build resilient children, families, whānau and communities by delivering the right help at the right time in the right way.

Unresolved trauma can colour a person’s whole life, affecting their health, relationships and ability to function.

Skylight is led by chief executive, Heather Henare (pictured above), who was formerly the head of the New Zealand Women’s Refuge and a New Zealander of the Year finalist.

Heather wants to make practical help for children, families, whānau and communities easier to access for all people across Aotearoa New Zealand when they need it.

Skylight can provide you with information and support to build resilience during those times in life when you feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to cope.

“There are too many cases where people don’t get the right help at the right time and end up in years of crime, self-harm, and physical and emotional damage,” Heather says.

Each year through its work, Skylight supports more than 16,000 people across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lending library

Skylight has an impressive lending library of more than 2000 resources – mainly books but some DVDs and games – for children, adults and professionals.

Resource centre co-ordinator, Jenny McIntosh, with the lending library of around 2000 items.

People can visit, phone or email to outline their situation and appropriate trauma-informed resources will be put together with a free information pack and sent out to them.

Staff receive many notes of thanks from people who have accessed the library.

“Thank you so much for listening so intently to my request and then compiling some pamphlets and this book for me, plus sending a small booklet on grief to my Mum. This was particularly helpful (I think) as she said so. Usually she is quite negative, and she also shared it with someone else, so well done!” – adult daughter

Another wrote: “Yes, was a very terrible tragedy but all this information you have given me is great, a lot of the information relates to this family and will help so much. Thank you and I am so grateful for all this great information.” – Māori social service provider

Skylight also sells – including online – a range of booklets for children and adults on many topics, including understanding grief.

Death Without Warning, When You’re Grieving and Grief is Like a Huge Wave are among the publications for teens and adults.

A special range for children includes titles: What Happened to Baby? When Parents Fight, Living in a Blended Family, When Someone Important to You Has Died, When Someone You Know Has an Addiction, When Someone in Your Family is Ill or Injured and After the Suicide of Someone You Know.

There is also a book on the loss of a family pet.

Our kids are really smart and they are hungry for information and for answers,” Heather says.

There are also resources appropriate for people – including professionals and business management – dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.

Another resource deals with managing trauma, loss and grief in the workplace.

Counselling services

Skylight also offers counselling on both a user-pays basis and through accessing relevant funding. Through partner counsellors they are able to offer their services in several other major centres.

Feedback from clients includes:

You were the guiding light in some very dark days for our family. The warmth greeted us from the very first visit and the ongoing support from David our counsellor, has been second to none.

“I appreciate for these things to work, relationships and trust are imperative. David’s wonderful, gentle and open approach really helped establish a strong relationship from the onset with our son and as a parent I have valued the way David has connected me throughout.

“Thank you for the entire team in Wellington. Your support has made all of the difference.”

“Not everyone wants or needs counselling but there are lot of written and web resources that work for them,” Heather says.

Mobile booth

This mobile booth allows users to sit and think about questions that include “What’s the most important thing in your life and why?” and “What does resilience mean to you?” It’s a prototype designed by Skylight for use in schools and at resilience programmes and hui.

Establishment of a Resilience Hub

This year Skylight, which is based in central Wellington, is redesigning its online presence by developing what it has named a Resilience Hub on its website.

The aim is to make it easier for online visitors to navigate the site and find the resources they need.

It will have the same web address as Skylight now and will be mobile friendly and use plain language to make it easy for people to understand.

Heather says they also want to have people sharing their own stories of resilience on the site.

The Resilience Hub pilot will start in May and it will be launched at Parliament in July.

Heather is looking forward to the Hub enabling them to connect in a wider and more diverse way.

The Hub will also have new resilience resources, such as a web series on the power of resilience, training webinars, and other rich, digital content. Supporting children and young people will be a strong focus.

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For more information:

Go to

Phone: 0800 299 100 or 04 939 6767

Email: [email protected]

Fax: 04 939 4759

Street Address: Level 3, 5-7 Vivian Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Postal address: PO Box 7309, Newtown, Wellington 6242



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