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.

Click here to download an interactive pānui / flyer about the group 

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

Click here to jump to our registration form or read on for more about the group.

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 the most common neurodisability in the world – more common than autism, Down Syndrome and cerebal 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 three 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.


Kirsty Griffith is an RTLB in the Nelson Bays Cluster 30 who developed an interest in FASD around 15 years ago when she was teaching a young man who had been diagnosed with FASD. She has been to FASD conferences in Canada and Australia and is working on a Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology around the supports available for secondary students with FASD.

Contact: [email protected]


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 virtually on the fourth Tuesday every month between 4:00 and 5:00pm. We have tried to arrange the meetings to avoid school term breaks.

Once you've registered to join the group, you’ll receive a list of meeting dates for the 2023 year, so you can schedule them into your diaries well in advance. A Zoom link will be emailed to you at least one day before each meeting.

We know educators are busy people but we hope you can find an hour once a month 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.

You can join us at any time throughout the year. 

Once you've hit submit, you'll receive an email confirming your registration, with the 2023 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]