The New Focus NZ Vision

Muriel Willem established Career Focus NZ to provide meaningful, practical and relevant career development services for clients of all ages and backgrounds for both individuals and businesses.

Evidence-based research, as well as decades of Muriel’s experience, indicated a strong link between wellbeing and career development. Clients who demonstrated resilience were more likely to lead happier, healthier lives and were more likely to gain satisfaction and sense of purpose through increased opportunities for employment or further education.  

So, New Focus NZ was created to provide solutions for clients who are currently unable to access an already overloaded health system, as well as seeking career support. 

New Focus NZ acknowledges the link between wellbeing and career guidance and the need to offer additional specialist services that reflect the importance of this relationship. 

New Focus NZ uses trusted evidence-based and culturally inclusive methods to support clients presenting with mild to moderate wellbeing/mental health issues.

Our Logo: The Pūriri Moth / Pepetuna

We have chosen the beautiful iconic Pūriri Moth/Pepetuna, Aotearoa’s biggest native moth as our logo.

The Pūriri Moth / Pepetuna symbolises the journey towards change and although this may be a slow process, if you have ever seen the beauty of a fully grown female of the species, you’ll agree that the wait was well worth it!

Found in Te Ika-a-Māui / the North Island, this iconic moth starts its life in the undergrowth as an egg. On emerging, the caterpillar spends the next 2 to 3 months feeding on fungus before making its way into a tree, (preferably the Pūriri), where it then digs a distinctive “7-shaped” tunnel.

After remaining inside the tree for up to 7 years the caterpillar has now transitioned into a moth – sometimes reaching 15cm in width, before making its way into the night where the sole purpose of its remaining life (only 2 – 3 days) is to mate and produce offspring.

Meet our team

MURIEL WILLEM_New Focus

Muriel Willem
Director / Career Guidance and Employment Specialist

Muriel has over 30 years of experience in the education sector and is passionate about all aspects of career coaching and development. Muriel specialises in supporting people of all ages and backgrounds in making informed decisions about their pathway to employment or training. Muriel’s experience includes 16 years supporting teenage mothers at He Matariki School for Teen Parents in Whangārei, developing their individual study and employment pathways. She uses her strong links with employers, community groups and recruitment agencies as well as her in-depth knowledge of tertiary providers to provide the best outcomes to her clients.

In this new Covid environment, job seekers have sought her support to choose new career pathways or to advance their careers by growing their skills further. Recently, Muriel and her team supported the government’s Covid response by working alongside the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), and more recently, Channel NZ (formerly Refining NZ) to help individuals affected by redundancies and job losses.

With professional qualifications in career guidance including a Graduate Diploma in Career Development, a professional membership to the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ), a life member of NorthCATE  (former Professional Development Officer, vice-chair and President), a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and an accredited CareerSmart (youth) and CareerIntelligence (adults) online Assessor, Muriel continues to upskill and to stay up to date with the latest in career guidance development, employment trends and training opportunities.

Muriel has a natural empathy for those wishing to improve their future and is dedicated to ensuring that her clients receive the best possible advice and guidance.

Muriel’s personal experiences, qualifications and connections are all very much a part of New Focus NZ where you and your needs are her focus.

IAN PRITCHARD_New Focus

Ian Pritchard
Lead Wellbeing Specialist

Ian’s warm and engaging manner promotes an empathetic and mindful approach to supporting clients to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, improve their resilience and address barriers that may limit personal and professional progress.

Ian has extensive training and experience working alongside people of all ages and backgrounds – addressing learning and behavioural issues, anxiety, depression, trauma and substance misuse.

Ian has worked for the Ministry of Education for 9 years as Special Education Advisor, Senior Advisor and holding positions of Service Manager, Traumatic Incident Team Manager/Practice Lead and MOE Agent to CYMRC (Child/Youth Mortality Review Committee). His cross-agency experience and extensive sector relationships have contributed to improved outcomes and the prevention and resolution of many high-risk and complex issues and situations.

Ian has recently completed an Advanced Certificate in Mental Health with PreKure, including Mental Health Practises, Brain Biology and Neuroscience, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Substance Misuse and Addictions, Advanced Lifestyle Medicine for Mental Health, Psychological Injury, and Trauma and Mental Health Coaching.

Ian’s culturally inclusive approach includes The Ministry of Health’s approved model of Te Whare Tapa Whā which acknowledges the importance of a spiritual dimension within wellbeing.

A trained chef, surfer, visual and performing artist and environmentalist, Ian is also a founding member of Opera North, a Trustee of the Forum North Trust and a Board Member of Creative Northland.

“I acknowledge the courage it takes to make the first step towards wellness. I look forward to meeting you and helping to support your journey towards a happier, healthier you.”- Ian

Alejandra Castañeda
Communications/Wellbeing Practitioner

Alejandra’s calm nature and mindful listening complement the client-led wellbeing journey, She starts by finding out where her clients are and explores where they want to be and the changes they wish to make to reach a happier self.

Alejandra moved to New Zealand from Los Angeles, California in 2020 and is passionate about using her understanding of the migrant experience to assist other migrants in their path towards wellbeing.

She has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s University, California and has experience as a Therapist, engaging in client-led sessions to connect and build relationships.

Alejandra joined Career Focus NZ in 2021 bringing her communications skills to manage social media and administrative duties. Subsequently, she took on the role of Interview Coach, providing clients with one-on-one interview preparation coaching, tailored to their role and industry. Alejandra has supported many clients to gain the confidence and practice they needed to perform in various job interviews.

She recently completed further training as a Prekure Health Coach in New Zealand and will be a great asset to New Focus NZ’s Wellbeing Team.

EMMA PLAISTED_New Focus

Emma Plaisted
Employment Specialist

Emma draws on her professional and public sector roles to work alongside people and support them through times of change in their lives.

Emma considers a career to be best developed using a combination of experience, interests and skills. She is passionate about working with people to grow their confidence and skills and to get them ready to take the next steps in their career journey.

“My focus has been on assisting people to review their career plans after suffering an injury. I enjoy helping people to identify and develop their transferrable skills, supporting them to become work-ready and find sustainable work. I encourage people to identify and acknowledge their values, key skills and their interests to develop their career goals.”

At the weekends, you’ll either find Emma enjoying rural life on her family’s orchard – growing avocados, tamarillo, and feijoas for the local market, or enjoying the gorgeous beaches of Tai Tokerau.