Who We ARe

Birthright Canterbury was registered as a charity more than 50 years ago on 18 October 1963 with the principal goal of supporting single parents and their children. Over the subsequent years Birthright has sought to respond to the myriad of needs that emerge when a family has just one parent. Support includes financial, social, recreational and educational and is provided in a practical and non-judgmental way that seeks to support the family.

Our Philosophy

The purposes of Birthright Canterbury are to work with single mothers, single fathers and other caregivers in Christchurch, Ashburton and surrounding districts. Our stated aim is to assist a parent and their child/children to gain confidence, develop life skills and achieve financial and personal independence.


Rhodora Sagles


Rhodora started at Birthright in March 2015. She brings years of experience from working with other not-for-profit groups here in Christchurch and the Philippines. She has also volunteered in pacific nations such as Vanuatu and Kiribati. She is excited to support and build on the vision of Birthright, empowering families and children to be nurtured, resilient and inspired.

Desiree Patchett

Programme Support and Volunteer Coordinator

Desiree enjoys working for Birthright because of the variety of work, the people she comes across each day and the teamwork. She believes that all children should be given opportunities to succeed. Multi-tasking, a passion for children’s welfare and a sense of humour are all qualities that Desiree believes are essential for her role.


Gloria Medina

Social Worker

Gloria is a social worker. originally from Chile, South America. She has been living in New Zealand since 2003 and studied for a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Canterbury. Before starting at Birthright Canterbury Gloria spent almost two years working for Women's Refuge in Wellington. She enjoys working at Birthright Canterbury because she has the chance to walk alongside clients, supporting them to improve their lives. Gloria is also a Mum to a toddler. In her spare time her family enjoys going for walks, spending time with friends and family and travelling to discover new places.


Elaine Riach

Social Worker

Elaine is a registered social worker who studied at Ara Institute. Elaine has worked at Caring for the Carers for four years and before that worked for two years at Open Home Foundation. Although she has only been at Birthright Canterbury for a short while she loves working with the clients and their children.  Elaine is a mother of 4 grown-up children and a grandmother to 3 1/2  grandchildren. Elaine loves to spend time painting, colouring-in, knitting, collecting old china and travelling.

Christine Muff

Ashburton Social Worker

Christine started as a Volunteer Family Visitor in 2003 and became a Field Worker in 2008. She has always worked with people and, having been a single parent for a short time, knew how difficult it could be without support, so she felt she could give something of herself to the role. She has studied social work at the University of Otago on a part-time basis. What she most enjoys about working for Birthright is the families. “They all bring something of themselves that warms your heart. I enjoy seeing people gain confidence and grow within themselves to achieve independence and goals.”

Ruth Logan

Ashburton Volunteer Family Visitor

Ruth has volunteered for Birthright since 1994. One of the reasons she joined was because she enjoys working with children. Family is very important to her and, as a mother and grandmother, she is always interested in what is happening for them and her Birthright families. Ruth has also trained as a budget adviser and worked as a kindergarten teacher.

Lyn Stuart

Ashburton Volunteer Family Visitor

As a volunteer, Lyn enjoys meeting the parents and children of Birthright Canterbury. After retiring in 2013, Lyn wanted to use her time to help others in the community. She was previously the financial officer for Safer Ashburton, a community trust running social work programmes in Mid Canterbury. In her spare time, Lyn enjoys spending time with her family, reading and gardening.


Pat Weir

Ashburton Volunteer Family Visitor

Pat has been involved with Birthright for more than 25 years. She enjoys visiting families on a regular basis to see how they are. In her spare time, Pat likes to knit, garden, do craft, write letters to friends outside of Ashburton, travel, spend time with her family, volunteer for other organisations and learn about other people’s cultures.

our Governance team
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Jane Lancaster


Jane joined the board of Birthright Christchurch Inc in 2012, and became chair of Birthright Canterbury Trust in 2016. She is also a trustee for Birthright New Zealand Trust. Jane is a director of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Catalyst® Ltd and High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge and is a chartered member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. In her working life she is a consultant to companies in food and agribusiness, providing advice about business development and export of products. She was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2006.


Jane volunteered for Birthright because of the long history of effectiveness of Birthright in supporting children in families led by 1 person. She had a friend at school who was a “Birthright Child” and always remembered the positive impact Birthright had. 

She and husband Bill have four adult children and four grandchildren. Jane enjoys gardening and walking and is active in her community church.


Judy Roughan


As a social worker, I have been privileged to work in a number of different community agencies around Christchurch. For the past fifteen years, I have worked at Christchurch Women Prison, both as a Case Manager and as a social worker. I now find myself thinking about retirement and looking at ways to continue to have links to the social work community. When I heard that Birthright was seeking a Board member, it evoked wonderful memories for me. As a solo parent raising my sons, we were supported by Birthright, we all have fond memories of joining other families on a holiday camp. Later I became a volunteer home visitor, my experience with Birthright proved to be a significant influence in my later decision to train as a social worker. 

These days, my greatest joy is spending time with my three grandchildren and watching my sons being fully involved loving fathers. I look forward to again being involved with Birthright Canterbury.


Alison Argyle


Alison was a board member of Birthright Ashburton from 2010 including spending 6 years as its Treasurer. She is a teacher who now tutors private students as well as being a voluntary tutor at the local secondary school. Alison is a mother and grandmother who believes all children should be given the opportunity to realise their full potential. She sees Birthright as an important link in the community providing such opportunities.


Charles Whatman


Charles is a solicitor at Argyle Welsh Finnigan. He has recently joined the Board and is looking forward to sharing his legal knowledge with the other trustees. Charles is keen to contribute towards enriching the lives of young people in Ashburton. Outside of work Charles is a keen footballer and cricket fanatic. Charles has one young son.

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David Fisher


David has lived in Ashburton since February 1983. He is married to Janet and they have 3 children - Tim, Emily and Charlotte. Their children did their schooling through Allenton School, Ashburton Intermediate and Ashburton College. They have all left home after university educations, living in Berlin, Palmerston North and Wellington. David is a keen sportsman. He regularly plays golf, tennis and bridge.  He has spent many years playing hockey. Now that David has retired, his time is spent with family and doing voluntary work.


Debbie Mora


Debbie comes to us having already built a rapport with Birthright over a few years now and has a heart to see our organisation thrive through assisting our team as much as possible. She comes with many years of customer service in banking, taxation and employment relations advocacy work. Debbie has Diplomas in Human Resources Management and Accounting.
Outside of work Debbie's interests include the aviation industry and their associated air shows, motorsport, playing bridge and travelling.


We welcome any donations OR HELP

Birthright Canterbury Trust
301 Tuam Street
Christchurch 8011
New Zealand
C/o Community House
44 Cass Street
Ashburton 7700
New Zealand
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