To refer a new client, please click here. Please note that M4M does not accept self-referrals.

How we got started

Pēhea Mātou I Tīmata Ai?

The Early Days / Ngā Rā o Mua

Mums4Mums started off as a grassroots community response to a phone call from the clinical lead social worker at Tauranga Hospital in February 2021. A phone call came into our founder, Caroline Jane "CJ" Dafoe as she was working as a national coordinator for another charity. The social worker requested support for a migrant mum with twin boys born approximately 2-months premature.  She had called around to all other organisations she could think of in the community and everyone had said NO.

The request for help did not fit the kaupapa of the current charity CJ was working with, and so she asked what she could do as a mum and a community member to help the mother and her family. The social worker was delighted with the offer of support and quickly arranged for CJ to connect with the family to see how best to support them.

Within a couple of days, CJ met with Sukahwant Kaur Mahli and her husband Hardeep Mahli, and their twin boys Mehtaj and Sehtaj. It was evident quite quickly that CJ would need extra help for the family so reached out to a dear friend named Jena Smith-Sen. Between the two of them, they were able to reach out to four more women Wendy Thorn, Darlene McLaughlan, Ruth Young and Rosemary Marshall. Together with Jena, they became known as the Fab 5 of Mums4Mums as the founding volunteers.

The Fab 5 supported Sukhawant and the boys for approximately 5 hours a day, 6 days a week for about 5 months. The Fab 5 would come over for a cuppa and a chat, take her and the babies out to the park, accompany them to doctors and specialist appointments, help with short shopping trips, and sometimes a visit to their own home to get a change of scenery. When the boys were old enough for daycare, the Fab 5 would still visit Sukhawant and provide her with much-needed social and emotional support. She was missing the friendships and social aspect as she and her husband Hardeep had only recently moved to Tauranga before the birth of the boys from Auckland.

All women started off as strangers and soon became good friends, some became aunties and one special one became like a nana to the boys.

The Birth / Te Whakawhānautanga

More phone calls came from the social worker so CJ requested a face-to-face meeting so she could be better prepared as she had thought she was providing just a one-time service.  Soon CJ met with the originating social worker and two colleagues from Tauranga Hospital. The social workers began discussing with CJ about the maternal mental health crisis in New Zealand and definitely in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.

CJ formulated a plan and contacted a charity within the city to see if they would sponsor her and her small team of volunteers so that the police vetting system could be set up. After a few phone calls, CJ was speaking with the President at Multicultural Tauranga.

Multicultural Tauranga assisted CJ for almost a year with police vetting and space for meetings and contact point. With the anniversary approaching, it was decided to formulate the Mums4Mums Charitable Trust into a formal charity, as the referrals were growing and the need for the valuable and crucial services was becoming well known.

 CJ put the call out to her volunteers for ladies to step up and assist her in launching the new charity.  Bobby-Lea Cassidy, Pene Meiklejohn, and Agnes Peyron became the founding Trustees for Mums4Mums.

During its first year, Mums4Mums supported 44 families and that included 4 sets of twins. In the second year, they supported 114 families with more twins and their first set of triplets to their list of accomplishments.

The Growth / Te Whakatiputipu

During the first two years, CJ and her team of volunteers were so busy helping new māmā and pēpi that they didn't spend any time promoting their services, and there definitely was no time for shaking hands with the mainstream funders. When CJ did get some time to apply for a grant, they were declined which was a very disappointing experience indeed.

CJ was feeling the financial burden of paying all of the costs on her limited income and finally, her first funder was established with The Spirit of MacMad.

The funding allowed CJ to recoup some of the initial expenses and to hire two Regional Coordinators part-time and eventually, an Admin/HR team member which shifted some of the weight in running the new organisation.  After that, more funding started to come in from local businesses and some of the mainstream funders which carried the charity successfully through its first year.

During that second year of operation, CJ received at least 21 emails or phone calls from various locations within New Zealand inquiring If Mums4Mums was available in their region, or if it could be within their region.

With each inquiry, she asks if that person or someone they know is willing to launch the service in their community. If they say yes, then Mums4Mums sources the needed funding and starts to mentor the new Area or Regional Coordinator and provide the successful framework to launch.

The Future / Te Anamata

The communities that have been identified to expand in 2023 are Whakatāne and Rotorua under the guidance of experienced midwife Kathryn Boyd.

CJ is currently in discussion with other communities including Hamilton, Taranaki and the Coromandel.

The Tauranga service centre also supports Te Puke, Katikati, Ōmokoroa, Waihi Beach and the areas close by.

Want to become part of Mums4Mums? / Kei te hiahia piri mai koe ki a ‘Mā Māmā, Mō Māmā’?    

If you are interested in expanding Mums4Mums into your community please contact us at