About Ngā Tupu Rau

An initiative from FASD-CAN to support Aotearoa’s educators

Heeding the call from educators in Aotearoa for more information about how to best support our neurodiverse Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) learners, FASD-CAN is pleased to offer a new initiative called the FASD Ngā Tupu Rau Group for Educators.

Ngā Tupu Rau refers to weaving together our varied knowledge to build and strengthen understanding. It's a metaphor for networking with educators across Aotearoa supporting those with FASD. Read on below for further information.

We'd love it if you could please help us spread the word and share this with your colleagues!

Click here to jump to our registration form or read on for more about FASD in education and our facilitators.

FASD in Education

Te Whatu Ora / Ministry of Health has conservatively estimated that between 3-5% of the population each year is born with FASD in Aotearoa. This makes FASD one of the most common neurodisability in the world – more common than Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy combined.

Ministry of Education data tell us there has been a mean average of 56,600 of age 5 new entrants enrolled in New Zealand schools over the 2020 to 2022 3-year period. Using the Ministry of Health prevalence parameters, this means that educators will be welcoming between 1,698 (3%) and 2,830 (5%) children with FASD into Aotearoa’s schools each and every year.

The School of Population Health at the National Institute for Health Innovation within the University of Auckland conducted a survey on FASD in education over 2021/22. A report on the results was released in May 2022 which documented an overwhelming need to improve workforce capacity and develop guidelines that address the needs of frontline staff working with tamariki and rangatahi impacted by FASD in education settings.

Whatever your role in the education sector, you are going to come across FASD students at some point in your career, and that means you will need to know how best to support their learning and involvement in the school environment.

What's the group about?

The purpose of the FASD Ngā Tupu Rau Group for Educators is to provide you with knowledge about FASD best practice in the education sector and to provide an opportunity for you to connect and network to learn from each other – and share those experiences with others.

Membership in the group provides you with ongoing learning opportunities around a theme/topic essential to understanding FASD or to managing the symptoms of FASD. It is not about working harder, but differently, from a place of understanding that FASD is a brain-based disorder.

Membership will also enable the natural development of informal supports with other colleagues where experiences and knowledge can be shared, and issues relating to FASD students can be discussed and brainstormed.


To become a member of the group you must be a member of FASD-CAN (join here – it's free and very quick, with no obligation), and either:

  • be currently working in the education sector in some capacity;
  • be in training to join the education sector; or
  • have been previously working in the education sector.

Membership in the group is on a personal/individual basis, and you will be required to comply with FASD-CAN’s privacy and confidentiality requirements. This means the ZOOM links you will be sent cannot be shared with other non-group members. 

PLEASE NOTE: FASD-CAN has kanohi ki te kanohi / face to face support groups for caregivers and whānau here, and a new FASD learning and networking group for social and support workers is launching soon. Consider becoming a FASD-CAN member to receive updates on this and other news!

Our Facilitators

FASD-CAN is delighted to have two fantastic FASD-informed educators to co-facilitate the group. They will be the ones listening to your needs and interests, developing some training on specific FASD and education topics, and facilitating the online meetings.


Trish Porter has previously worked as an SLT (Speech Language Therapist), taught in a special school for ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funded students and since 2018 has been an RTLB. Trish and her partner Ross have caregiver experience of FASD through their daughter, who joined their family as a 14-month-old and is now 24 years old.

Contact: [email protected]


Fiona Harkness is a Practice Leader in the Tai Tokerau South RTLB Cluster. She has been an RTLB since 2005. Fiona developed an interest in FASD when when struggling to support a student with FASD; this experience was the basis of her desire to become an RTLB. A focus of her work is to support RTLB and teaching staff to take a strengths-based approach, understanding that some students have difficulty not being difficult and to have practical ways of working which promote genuinely inclusive classrooms. 

Contact: [email protected]


Where and when?

The FASD Ngā Tupu Rau group meetings will take place online between 4pm and 5pm, beginning on 19 March, 2024 (please note this has been postponed from March 12). We will arrange the meetings to avoid school holidays.

We know educators are busy people but we hope you can find an hour once every couple of months to take advantage of this wonderful learning and networking opportunity. If you are unsure, you can always attend the first meeting and then decide!

Any questions?

If you have any questions or want to know more, please feel free to contact one of our FASD Ngā Tupu Rau group facilitators via their email address given above.


To register for membership in the FASD Ngā Tupu Rau group please check your eligibility and fill in the form below. If you can't see the form, you're probably not a member – join here

You can sign up to the group at any time throughout the year. 

Once you've hit submit, you'll receive an email confirming your registration, with the 2024 schedule of meeting dates and your Zoom link - this will be the same link for all sessions of the group. 

Members can cancel their membership at any time by emailing [email protected]



Please note: if you can't see the form below, you will need to join us as a member first. If you think you should have access to this form, but don’t – please contact us.