The Starfish Team

July 19, 2016

Sara Bright

Managing Director

20160729_144326Sara is a therapist at Starfish Project who has an extensive 20 year history working with young people.  She has worked with youth in a variety of social service and educational settings, including Government agencies and NGO’s. Her passion for young people and supporting positive change in their lives is the driving force behind the creation of Starfish.

Sara is a registered Senior Practitioner Social Worker.  She holds a post graduate qualification in Health Science, with a specialisation in alcohol and drug studies and co-existing problems.  She also holds an entry level teaching qualification. Sara is a qualified Social Services Supervisor, and has supervised social work students, social workers, and youth workers. Sara has experience in family therapy, working with high need families/whānau with challenging behaviour and/or mental health needs.


Abi Patene

Social Worker

starfish projectAbi is a vibrant, focused woman of Taranaki iwi decent, who has a number of roles at Starfish Project.  Abi is a registered Social Worker, and adds a youthful, positive perspective to the Starfish team.

Abi offers Social Work support to key Starfish Project contracts.  Her ability to mentor and support our rangatahi  is key to the integrated support that Starfish Project delivers.

Bella Atkins

Teacher / Employment Co-ordinator 

Bella is an experienced consultant with a diverse professional background. She holds a Business degree in Economics & Finance and Post Graduate studies in Education and is a qualified Primary school teacher.

At Starfish Project Bella holds a dual role as the Lead Teacher for Starfish in a hands on role with our MOE contracts. Bella also has considerable experience in recruitment and is currently our Employment Co-ordinator supporting young people into meaningful employment opportunities as they take the next step to a brighter future. She is focused on the best outcomes possible for all the clients of Starfish Project.

Jo Heggie

Social Worker / Counselor

Jo completed an honours degree in Social and Political Science at the University of Wales, Swansea and has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Massey University.  Jo has worked as a Social Worker for several years both overseas and in New Zealand with families and young children, in Youth Offending and the Department of Corrections, and more recently working with families affected by Family Violence. 

Jo’s social work experience has provided her with a wide range of skills and knowledge that allow her to positively contribute to the well-being of our rangatahi at Starfish Project.