Sir Ashley Bloomfield officially joins with Southern Cross to promote good mental health and wellbeing for our tamariki



  • Sir Ashley in a new partnership with the Southern Cross group, designed to help young New Zealanders thrive through promotion of the Pause Breathe Smile mindfulness programme
  • Southern Cross fully funds the Pause Breathe Smile programme to ensure it is available free to all kura, primary and intermediate schools in Aotearoa
  • Pause Breathe Smile is proven to improve behaviour and attitudes in tamariki with benefits to their families and teachers.

One of the questions Sir Ashley Bloomfield is often asked is ‘how did you cope with all the pressure you were under as the public face of the Covid response for Aotearoa?’ And it’s one he’s happy to answer as an example for how others can set themselves up for success in dealing with stressful situations.

“Over the years I’ve learned the absolute importance of looking after my physical and mental wellbeing if I want to be at my best each day. I’ve always found physical activity and regular ‘downtime’ really important in helping me maintain resilience – and this was especially so during the pandemic.

“I’ve seen first-hand the value of simple but highly effective mindfulness techniques in helping to face both chunky and everyday challenges. Things like mindful breathing and movement, expressing gratitude, and understanding how we can better react to stressful situations really help when things get tough. I’ve started to use mindfulness personally on an everyday basis and I see it as an essential ‘skill for life’.

Sir Ashley has studied and worked in public health for most of his career and understands how programmes like Pause Breathe Smile can help individuals and communities.

“I’m very excited about supporting Pause Breathe Smile as a way to help our children be more resilient, positive, and ready to face challenging situations in their own lives. That Southern Cross fund the programme in its entirety, means any kura, primary or intermediate school can take part in a proven mindfulness programme which makes a practical difference every day.

“I am so pleased to be helping create even more awareness of Pause Breathe Smile, supporting this important part of Southern Cross’ mission to help more New Zealanders live healthier and happier lives.”

Chris White, CEO of Southern Cross Healthcare, which funds the programme says, “We operate with a not-for-profit ethos, focusing on how we can play our part in helping New Zealanders live healthier lives, especially with community health initiatives. Pause Breathe Smile is an important part of the contribution we make to Aotearoa New Zealand, and we are delighted Sir Ashley is joining with us to shine a light on the programme.

“A recent survey by Mindquip investigating Pause Breathe Smile efficacy shows just what a difference the programme is making. More than 1,000 responses from educators trained in Pause Breathe Smile showed that positive behaviour in the classroom increased by 12.4 per cent and negative behaviour in the classroom reduced by 10.1 per cent. We were also excited to see that 12 months on from introducing PBS, general student wellbeing was up 16.6 per cent and that the number of students flourishing increased by 8.1 per cent.”

Sir Ashley says, “It’s clear tamariki benefit from the mindfulness skills they learn through Pause Breathe Smile and thanks to the financial support of Southern Cross we can help more than the 114,000 children who have been through the programme already. With my public health hat on, I am convinced of the wider community benefits.

“If I can make a small contribution by increasing awareness of the programme, that’s great. I’m looking forward to getting out into schools around Aotearoa and to sharing the benefits of mindfulness in other ways.”