We believe that every child deserves to thrive and not just survive.​
Grant & Natasha Rix, Pause Breathe Smile Trust

Grant & Natasha Rix
Pause Breathe Smile Trust

Homegrown and evidence-based

Pause Breathe Smile is growing tamariki wellbeing  throughout primary and intermediate schools across Aotearoa.  Originally developed in 2013 by Grant Rix with input from a range of experts in education, mental health, mātauranga Māori, psychology and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.  Pause Breathe Smile became fully funded by major sponsor Southern Cross, in 2020 and is still being led by the same people who have been leading since the beginning.

Our purpose

The Pause Breathe Smile Trust exists to help create a healthier New Zealand by equipping Kiwi kids with mind health skills. We believe that every child deserves to thrive and not just survive.

Unfortunately, New Zealand ranks poorly regarding overall child wellbeing outcomes.* Turning these poor outcomes around and making Aotearoa the best place in the world to grow up will take large scale concerted efforts on behalf of Government, public services, private businesses, NGOs (like us), communities, whānau and schools. Everyone has a role to play because the choices we make as adults are connected to the health and wellbeing of our nation’s tamariki

For our part, Pause Breathe Smile can help ensure that our tamariki are equipped with awesome mental skills to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, uncertain world. Skills like learning how to regulate emotions, build self-awareness and relate positively to others. We know that learning these skills early in life can help kids thrive now and in the future. 

*New Zealand currently ranks 35 out of 41 OECD countries in overall child wellbeing outcomes, according to UNICEF.

Our Team

Grant Rix
Co-founder & Director of Training & Development

Grant Rix is the co-creator of Pause Breathe Smile and a leader in mindfulness training, implementation and research.

For the past 20 years Grant has developed evidence-based mindfulness programmes and trained school teachers, counsellors, psychologists, high-performing athletes and other New Zealanders in mindfulness. He was the operations manager for Mindful Aotearoa, part of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, for seven years, and regularly presents on mindfulness and wellbeing at conferences, in workplaces and in the media.

Natasha Rix
Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Natasha Rix is the co-creator of Pause Breathe Smile and is experienced in strategic planning, mindfulness training and entrepreneurship. She has successfully created and managed two mindfulness training businesses, with proven expertise in developing and delivering mindfulness personal and professional development, reaching thousands of individuals, health professionals and educators since 2012.

Natasha co-founded the Pause Breathe Smile Charitable Trust in 2020 signing a Sponsorship Funding Agreement with Southern Cross and the Mental Health Foundation to provide evidence-based mind health skills free for New Zealand children. She established the Trust as an operational entity and managed the roll out of Pause Breathe Smile to over 46,000 children in the first year of operations.

Dr Janel Atlas, PhD
Facilitator & Relationships Manager

Born and raised in the United States, Janel Atlas moved to New Zealand in 2015 and has since earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, focusing on the importance of listening with compassion to women’s stories of pregnancy losses. She also is the author of They Were Still Born: Personal Stories about Stillbirth, a teacher and relationship coach, and a qualitative researcher with experience in tertiary education and in the health sector. Janel’s personal mindfulness practice supports how she relates to others, including with her three children. In addition to her work with Pause Breathe Smile training teachers and helping with new content development and te reo Māori delivery, Janel is also a self-professed relationship nerd who enjoys walking, swimming, pottery, and trying out new recipes at her home kitchen in Christchurch.

Betsy Spigel
Mindfulness Facilitator

Betsy’s passion is to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. She sees immense value in introducing mindfulness to children at an age that can truly shape their lives for the better. Betsy has also taught mindfulness to adults, and is accredited to deliver the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. In her earlier career as an Organisation Development Consultant, Betsy facilitated professional training and development programmes across a variety of sectors including education, healthcare, NGOs, and private organisations. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Princeton University in the United States, and an MBA at Canterbury University. Betsy lives with her two children in Governors Bay, just outside Christchurch, where she enjoys hiking, biking, swimming and paddleboarding in the stunning hills and harbour.

October Conway
Marketing & Communications Manager

Meet October (Tobi) a Marketing & Communications Manager turned passionate advocate for youth mental wellbeing.

With a solid background in corporate marketing, (Sony, NZTE) Tobi has transitioned her career focus to making a positive impact on the lives of young people. After welcoming three children into her life, Tobi experienced firsthand the importance of mental health awareness, especially during the formative years.

With her unique blend of corporate experience and heartfelt dedication, Tobi is dedicated to creating a brighter and healthier future for the next generation.

Lindy Blackmore
Schools Coordinator

Lindy is dedicated and passionate and enjoys the unique blend of connection, organisation and creativity the role of Pause Breathe Smile Schools Coordinator brings.

Based in the stunning Mount Maunganui, Lindy loves running, walking, yoga, ocean dips, and the many other wonderful outdoor activities beach life provides.

She has practiced mindfulness and meditation for over 30 years and knows first-hand the amazing benefits having an embodied mindfulness practice brings both personally and professionally.

Carolyn Mortland

Carolyn Mortland has twenty years of experience as an executive in the food and beverage industry, holding a variety of roles in Fonterra including corporate counsel and Director of Global Sustainability. During this time Carolyn held responsibility for the Fonterra Milk for Schools and KickStart Breakfast programmes, supporting wellbeing for kids in school. Carolyn is a director of Service Foods Ltd and a board member on the Tāwhaki Joint Venture. She is also a member of the Zespri Sustainability Advisory Board and a Beachhead Advisor with NZTE. Carolyn has an LLB and BA (Victoria University) and is a Member of the Institute of Directors. She lives in Auckland with her husband and three children, and enjoys the busy household, walks along the beach and mindful moments.

Anna Roberts

Having a strong entrepreneurial spirit with marketing and strategy base, Anna has a passion of making a difference to others. She runs a mobile advertising business of 23 years and also project manages a number of community building developments including the ‘Midway Surf Rescue Community Hub’ located in Tairawhiti, Gisborne. Anna is passionate about giving back to the community and resides on a number of boards. Anna has served on the Rere School Board of Trustees for six years as Treasurer, is on the Midway Surf Rescue Community Trust, Raukokore Church Restoration and Preservation Trust and the Pause Breath Smile Trust. A mother of three, Anna resides with her husband on their hill country station, where they have a full and varied life. When it comes to downtime, Anna surfs, practices yoga, plays golf, and catches up with her friends and family.

Research & Findings

  • Increases calmness
  • Improves focus & attention
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Improves conflict resolution skills
  • Develops positive relationships
  • Reduces teacher stress
  • Statistically significant increases in childhood wellbeing
  • Marked improvement in focus, perseverance, helpfulness and self-motivation
  • Marked decline in apprehension, anxiety and pessimism
Our Research

A uniquely New Zealand approach

Pause Breathe Smile has always been deeply rooted in Aotearoa’s identity. 

The programme is contextualised by Te Whare Tapa Whā – Sir Mason Durie’s model of hauora from a Māori perspective and we continue to take big steps toward ensuring that it is fully accessible for kaiako and ākonga who teach and learn in mainstream or Māori immersion settings.

This approach has taken years of investment from our own team and external experts which was Initiated with the Māori Development team at the Mental Health Foundation back in 2015. Since then, we have worked with Rawiri Hindle to pilot and review within Te Kura Māori O Porirua.

Whilst in pilot phase, we’ve developed a whole new suite of te reo resources, including an updated handbook for educators, audio practices, and video resources for mindful movements in te reo.  The training workshop for Māori language settings is delivered in English and Te Reo Māori and follows the procedures of tikanga Māori, for example, starting with whakatau, karakia, and mihimihi.

Southern Cross , New Zealand’s leading independent health and wellness provider, has joined forces with the Pause Breathe Smile Trust and The Mental Health Foundation. Together we share a vision of equipping every child in New Zealand with the tools to achieve positive mind health. Through this partnership, the Pause Breathe Smile programme is available to any primary or intermediate school since 2020, at no cost to schools.