Therapists At Our School

All students at Kōwhai Specialist School have access to our Therapy Services either through an individual referral or whole class approach. We as a Therapy Team use a transdisciplinary method to ensure we deliver a holistic and child/family/whānau centred approach.

Mandy Moylan (Occupational Therapist/Team Leader)


Speech Language Therapist (SLT)

The Speech-Language Therapist works in all areas of the school to support students who have communication difficulties. The SLT also supports students who have difficulties with eating and drinking.

The focus of SLT input is to support student’s functional communication across the day and in a range of environments. Therefore the SLT works closely with teachers, teacher assistants and other specialists to implement individualised programmes at school and home.

The Speech-Language Therapist supports students in different areas of their communication e.g. attention and listening skills, social interaction skills, understanding of language, using words and sounds. Additional support strategies may include use of signing, pictures/symbols, and electronic devices for communication.

Clare Pudney BA MSpchPath       

Nicole Wiig  BSpchLangTher     

Ella Foreman BSLP with First Class Honours                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Occupational Therapist

The Occupational Therapist's main goal in the school environment, is to assist the student to overcome barriers and help them develop the daily living skills they require to increase their independence and learning. “Occupational” refers to the occupations that people perform throughout their daily life, which for children include self care, leisure, play and school activities.

The Occupational Therapist may be involved with you and your child, either through direct intervention, or by consultation. The Occupational Therapist may look at

  • Facilitating fine and gross motor skills through play and curriculum activities
  • Modifying the environment e.g looking at sensory needs of child
  • Assessing for specialised equipment and adaptation to allow the child to access the curriculum e.g chairs, desks and assistive technology
  • Self-care skills e.g toileting, dressing, eating and grooming

Mandy Moylan NZROT (BHScOT)

Kirsten Barbara NZROT (BOT) 

Katy Bertola NZROT  (BOT)                                                                                                                                                                                      




​The psychologist's job is to assist in the development of individual programming to promote the social, emotional and academic achievement of students. This typically involves working together with teachers and parents and other specialists providers. It may also involve assessing student behaviour in a range of situations. Strategies to understand and manage behaviour and supports implemented to support learning are developed through a team process. Our psychologist does a range of work as a community psychologist and attends meetings at Kowhai School on an appointment basis.

John Medcalf PhD, MEd, PgDipEd Psych, Dip Ed


Music Therapist

‘’Music Therapy is the planned use of music to assist the healing and personal growth of people with identified emotional, intellectual, physical or social needs” (Music Therapy New Zealand, 2011). Our registered music therapists, use music and musical processes in child-centred, and goal-oriented ways to support the development of students at Kowhai. The therapists provide access to a wide range of instruments including guitar, piano, cello, ukulele, voice and vocalising, as well as a variety of percussive instruments during sessions. Music therapy goals are planned through an assessment process and align with the student’s IEP goals. Music is a highly motivating medium for many of our young people. It is an accessible and enjoyable medium with which to engage students.

Chelsea Savaiinaea BMus, MMusTher, NZRMT



The physiotherapist's role in the school environment is to help students with their physical well being. Individual daily therapy programmes are developed for children with physical needs. The Physiotherapist works together with school staff as part of a team to implement these programmes in a fun and enjoyable way. Physiotherapy programmes may aim to -

  • Encourage the development of gross motor skills
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Improve posture and alignment
  • Help normalise muscle tone for functional activities
  • Prevent or maintain secondary conditions (eg. muscle contractures)

Therapy may include gentle hands-on facilitation, gross motor play activities, specific stretching, sensory feedback and the use of specialised equipment such as standing or walking frames. Therapy is integrated into the daily curriculum to ensure it is functional and meaningful.

Baillie Triplow BPHTY, GRAdDipLnTchg

Miki Skeels BSc (Hons)

Therapy Assistant

The therapy assistant's role involves supporting therapists across the school in the above programmes. The therapy assistant also specialises in resource-making and Lego therapy. The responsibilities include creating therapeutic resources, such as visual aids and sensory tools to support therapy sessions. The therapy assistant facilitates Lego therapy sessions, which involves using Lego to promote social skills and communication development with some of our students across the school. 

Tracy O'Hanlon