NZMSA Communictions to Members Following Terror Attack

Kia ora koutou,


The NZMSA is deeply saddened and shocked by the events in Christchurch on Friday. The University of Otago believes that all medical students are safe following the attacks. However, we are aware of many students significantly affected and our hearts go out to them and their families. This email serves a 3-fold purpose, to alert students to local vigils happening around the country, to remind students of the counseling services available locally and nationally, and to alert muslim students that the NZMSA, at the recommendation of one of our students of Islamic faith, is coordinating with hospitals which have student placement to ensure appropriate communal prayer space is provided.  

Vigils and remembrance services happening around the country: (Note in some locations vigils have already occurred at the time of this email being sent):

  • Napier/Hastings: Monday, 18 March 1pm at the Napier Soundshell on Marine Parade and at the Hastings City Centre Clocktower (same time).
  • Christchurch: Thursday 21 March 8.30-9.30pm at Cathedral Square.
  • Dunedin: Thursday 21 March 7pm in the Octagon
  • Auckland: The Jummah Remembrance: Vigil for Lives Taken in Christchurch will be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 6pm on Friday, 22 March. An anti-Islamophobia rally, Kia Kaha Aotearoa: Stand Against Racism, will also be held at Aotea Square in Auckland at 2pm on Sunday, 24 March.


Counselling services

The NZMSA would like to take this opportunity to remind students of the counselling services available nationally. For immediate support you can text or call 1737, this is the national helpline for counselling services 24/7.

Additionally, all MPS members (all medical students are members) are granted funded sessions with any private psychologist. Accessing the service is easy. Simply contact MPS on 0800 2255677 option 3, and ask for the counselling service. This service is free and fully independent from university services.


University of Otago

No matter where you are in New Zealand, the University’s EAP counselling service is available  24/7 for all students. Phone 0800787286 for support.


In addition to the counselling service above Counselling and psychologist appointments are free at Student Health with a community services card. GP visits there are also only $10 and they offer services of a consultant psychiatrist as well. University staff outside of Student Health do not have access to your information without your written signed consent. If you would like to talk to someone from the medical school about your wellbeing, contact the Student Affairs office:  


Throughout Monday 8th March, room 710 in the medical school building will operate as a drop in place to give and receive support.  A number of mental health professionals in staff have offered their services. One or more of our senior staff will be in room 710 and can tell you how to access these professionals if you require this kind of assistance.

Dunedin-based staff are coming to provide support. Cath Logan, Occupational Health Nurse, and Carina Perner, Occupational Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser will be on our campus during Monday and Tuesday. They will be in Room 710 during some of Monday, but if you would like to contact them directly email them on or

Jan McKenzie, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, is contactable via email ( or cellphone (0274 393 697) to arrange an entirely confidential psychologist appointment free of charge.

The campus now has a chaplain, Glenda Hicks, who is available for staff or students who wish to speak to or meet with her. The best way to contact Glenda is

Free GP visits are available at the Christchurch Doctors for those with a community services card, or $20 appointments for those without a card.  Discounted fees are available at other GPs if students first contact Jan Mckenzie. Your GP can refer for free psychologist appointments.


Denise Steers, clinical psychologist, is available for free appointments, and is based in the medical school. All appointments with Denise are confidential. She is very experienced in working with medical students. Wellington students can contact her directly at to arrange an appointment.

Free GP appointments are available through two Wellington GP practices – contact Ann Thornton, Student Affairs Coordinator: for more information.

Free referrals to counselling/clinical psychology are available through the medical school. Contact Mark Huthwaite (Associate Dean Student Affairs): for more information.


You can fill out the UOA counselling registration form (This is typically associated with a waiting period):  

You can also email the university’s Health and Counselling service (for a more direct inlet to counselling services)

A room will be established at Grafton campus for students to share thoughts and sign a book of condolences.

Level 6 of Auckland Hospital is available for students to use as a safe payer space

Auckland peripheral hospitals:

The delivery of counselling services is complex. AUMSA is currently working on this as a long term issue. NZMSA fully supports AUMSA in this advocacy. The NZMSA and AUMSA have sent an email advising all peripheral coordinators to advise their students of the counselling services available.



GP services at Kensington Health, 12 Kensington Ave, Whangarei (Ph: 09 4379070)

Counselling services at The Starfish Clinic, Dr Yvette Ahmad, Level 4, 35 Robert Street,

Whangarei (Ph: 0211897540)



Students can access the hospital EPA system. Raewyn Wooderson, site administrator of Waikato is also able to book funded private psychologists for students in need. Students are able to access the University of Waikato Counselling services free of charge, and GP services at the UOW also. The first consultation with a GP costs $40, thereafter they are $10. It is required you sign up with the UOW GP service to access GP services, however UOW counselling is available to all medical students at Waikato DHB regardless of whether they join the GP service.


Please contact Irene Warren or Dr Stephen Bradley – Lakes DHB provides free counselling services to staff (including medical students). This is via an EAP program.


BOP services are provided primarily by the EAP programme at BOP DHB. They can be reached at 0800 327 669 or


Access is primarily through the hospital EPA program. Students can get in touch directly with EPA, or through Dr. John Doran or Taryn Hall. Additional services can also be organised in Taranaki  through Dr. Doran or Taryn. GP services are accessible at Phoenix medical for all students who join, at the time of joining, for $15. This price applies to their 24/7 service also.


Appropriate communal prayer space for students of the Islamic Faith

NZMSA was alerted by its membership that with the heightened security at Mosques around the country, it was difficult for some Muslim medical students to find space to pray communally. The NZMSA has approached all hospitals which students are placed at to ensure that communication goes out to students alerting them of the appropriate prayer spaces at these hospitals. If any student finds themselves in a position where they are not sure where to practice  their faith, or there is nowhere for them to do so, please contact immediately. The current assurance from the University, in case any students are not contacted is that students are able to use the multi-faith complexes at each hospital.


Other ways to help:

A 4th year medical student in Auckland has started a petition to have Public Broadcasting of Azan (adhan/athan) for Jummah Prayer. Azan is a call to prayer which in many Muslim countries is broadcast publicly to let the community know it is time for prayer. For many Muslims this call is familiar and very close to home. More information is available here:


Donate to a fund for the victims of the terror attacks:


The NZMSA will be working in both the short and long term to support our students, alongside our universities. To review NZMSA previous member communications click here. If any student feels there is more the NZMSA could be doing in the short term then please email with your thoughts. Thank you for the support and love you have shown your fellow students and communities through this time, this energy cannot fade and meaningful change must occur.  


Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui,



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