About Us


"What is required when...society has lost its way, is for leaders to arise who have not forgotten the discarded legacy and who love it with all their hearts." Winston Churchill

Our Team 

We have nearly completed our sixteenth year of  helping to empower children by teaching values and challenging them to put these Values into Action through the Values in Action programme.  Many people support and contribute to this effort, but below are those with the most formal public roles.

Matt and Krysta Hagen have vital roles in VIA.  Matt  provides background wisdom and guidance when needed and Krysta has been Chairperson of the LIFT Board since 2015. They are parents of three teenage and young adult sons; Pastors of Mission North Fellowship; and both have a range of wider community commitments. As well as all of that Matt works in architecture and Krysta is a midwife, so life for the Hagen's is very full!

Lorraine Hagen, who enjoys stunning sea views from her stylish bungalow in Nelson, loves sailing, delicious food and fine wines. She also loves family time with two married sons and 5 grandchildren.
Lorraine is the Apostle of The Mission Fellowships in New Zealand and also oversees churches in Zimbabwe, India and Fiji. Lorraine takes the role of Senior Advisor for Life in Focus Trust, helping us to keep our affairs in order.

Stewart and Susan Ralston adore their quaint cliff-top cottage.  Stewart, who works in telecommunications, enjoys long drives, coffee and surfing. Susan  loves the beach too, has a passion for reading, loves spending time with her two grandchildren and works as a specialist teacher in local schools.   Stewart was the Settlor of Life in Focus Trust and  serves as Treasurer on the present Board.  Susan, founder of Values in Action, continues to lead the programme on the ground.     

Megan Welch loves spending time with family and friends, especially her two children and in quieter moments enjoys scrap booking and handcrafts. She is a Middle School teacher at Kingsway School. Trustee and Personnel Director for Life in Focus Trust,  Megan  has designed the online components of the Values in Action Teacher Training process and oversees the ongoing professional development of Values in Action Teachers. 

Heather Rakoroi loves to sing and dance and celebrate life, especially when her favourite sports teams are winning,  as well as having a heart to serve the community in a number of ways.  She ejoys spending time with her two adult daughters and one of her greatest joys in life is her Grandson, 'Joonie' who currently resides in Korea with Heather's oldest daughter and son-in-law.  Heather,  office administrator for a large local company,  worked for four years in education in Fiji before joining the VIA team and now teaches multiple Values in Action classes  and assists with the training of new VIA Teachers.

Fiona Kennedy can be found most mornings enjoying the sunrise on her local beach with her dog Indy by her side. She and other family members can often  be seen climbing out of the surf or cooking up freshly caught fish on their BBQ.   Living very near to the beach with her husband Dan and two teenage children makes this relaxed lifestyle possible for Fiona. She works as a florist in a local business and is an active member of her local community. Fiona teaches VIA in multiple classes each week. 

Jo Chhour completed the Values in Action Training process in 2016 and now teaches multiple classes.  The passion her four daughters have for horse-riding at competitive level keeps Jo  very busy.  Her husband Hong is a keen surfer and fisherman so outdoor adventure is definitely a regular part of the Chhour family's lifestyle.  (And yes that surname is spelled correctly, with Hong's family having come to New Zealand from  Cambodia.) Jo also serves the wider community in various ways including assisting  with You Are Conferences for Teenage Girls.   Most of Jo's teaching experience, apart from three years home schooling her girls, is with pre-school age children, which she still does on a part time basis.

Sara Morley loves a good story, an adventure and nutritious food! Her hobbies include cycling, swimming and sailing on a Hobie Getaway with her husband Grant at the helm. Over the last twelve years Sara has worked part-time in a property development company using MYOB accounting software. She and her husband Grant have three daughters. The twins are young adults and their youngest daughter is in her late teens. Sara teaches multiple VIA classes at Middles level and especially enjoys reading stories to the children.

Janis Hannah is a retired secondary school teacher,  keen gardener and legendary cook who loves nothing more than spending time with her two young grandsons.  After many years of Values in Action teaching, Janis has retired from regular classroom commitment and now supports the team in various ways, including relieving in the classroom when required.  

About Life In Focus Trust (LIFT)

Life in Focus Trust - Teaching without preaching

The developers, leaders and administrators of Values in Action are a group of ordinary New Zealanders who,  in January 1999,  set up a community based charitable trust, Life in Focus Trust, to support the New Zealand community. We all have a heart to see children in New Zealand and beyond become all they can be in life as individuals and contributing community members.

We are registered with the Charities Commission - www.charities.govt.nz  Registration Number CC11112


To help build a good society in New Zealand


To build values into children - teach citizenship, honouring all children as valuable to God; equipping them to make good decisions thus empowering them to reach their full potential in life


To educate children, within New Zealand, teaching them - use stories from our heritage that have immediate relevance for children in school, at home and in the community, to form a basis for good citizenship and behaviour  

The History of Values in Action

Since 2001

large numbers of local people from the Hibiscus Coast and beyond have   given generously of time, skills and finances leading to a new paradigm of community support for primary education

Values in Action

is a unique and innovative approach to growing good citizens, funded into schools by the local community 

Trained teachers

are contracted to bring a thirty minute session into each classroom each week

Research results

from Red Beach School show that the Values in Action programme is successful at embedding the knowledge, skills and values of citizenship

2001 – 2003

Gary Holbrook, former principal of Red Beach School, supported and encouraged the development of a locally produced programme by Life in Focus Trust, a community based charitable trust.  The programme taught values in the context of Bible stories and their influence on our society through Arts and Attitudes, Laws and Morals and Times and Seasons.  During this time Lesley Tait, then Deputy Principal, had developed seven concepts which encapsulated  the skills and values the school community most wanted their children to learn. 

2004 – 2006

At Lesley Tait’s request these seven concepts were written into the programme and have now evolved into the ‘Seven Hearts Problem-solving Toolbox’.  When Lesley Tait became Principal, although re-framing the skills and values of the school, chose to maintain the relationship with Life in Focus Trust and keep using Values in Action to support the school programme. 


Values in Action has continued to keep pace with the New Zealand curriculum and with current pedagogies.


Programme innovations have been developed in response to the voice of children in the Values in Action programme and an online teacher training process has been developed. Now, thanks to training and mentoring from Kereama Nathan,  local marae leader,  'Bilingual Aotearoa' is a characteristic strand of the programme.


The programme has continued to evolve, being formed and shaped to fit our unique nation better.  Now 'Bilingual Aotearoa' is a characteristic strand of the programme, in which children learn to become comfortable with using the beautiful Māori language to explore, describe and put into action a fresh whakaaro of unique 'kiwi' values.