Posted by Jed Wieland on May 25, 2018

This week Dame Lesley Max (DMNZ MBE, MA(Hons) came to speak with us about the Great Potentials Foundation and how it helps to address the persistent inequality, which manifests itself in poor educational outcomes, unemployment, poor health and poverty for disadvantaged sectors.

Dame Lesley Max is the Co-founder and Trustee of Great Potentials Foundation whose aim is to relieve suffering, potential disparities, crime and enhance wellbeing.

Dame Lesley co-founded Great Potentials Foundation 1990.  She created the Family Service Centre model, introduced HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters) in New Zealand, and developed MATES (Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme).

Family Service Centres are aimed at providing places of support within communities.

The HIPPY programme currently operates in 41 low-income communities throughout New Zealand and targets a range of positive outcomes not only for children but also parents, fostering parent-child bonds as they recognise their role in early childhood learning and releasing potential.

The MATES programme provides for tertiary students mentoring pupils from low-decile schools who are at risk of not reaching their potential, the programme offers key interventions at Year 8 and Year 13.

Dame Lesley said that a key aim of the foundation was to ensure that every child is wanted and nurtured.   Her address was filled with wonderful stories of involvement, change and success.    Children benefited from the programme and generally performed better against their peers.   Parents benefited through attitude change participation with greater levels of involvement and support.

For those wanting detailed information about the Foundation and its work and how they may be able to help, visit