VHN supports individuals who have been receiving ORRS funding throughout their school years and continue to receive ongoing funding after leaving school. To be eligible you will be aged between 16 and 64 years; have a disability in accordance with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) criteria; have been assessed by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)as having Very High Needs.

Very High Needs (VHN) Services will support you to:
  • Identifying long and short term vocational and community goals
  • Match your interests, capabilities and needs to services and activities
  • Make a plan together to achieve set goals
  • Encourage self-choice

What is our VHN Service?
  • Tailor-made for you - your own holistic, individual plan
  • Our VHN Coordinator is mobile and will come to meet with you, your family/whanau, and support people.
  • The service is fluid in response to changes in your life
  • It can align with MSD day programmes
  • Our VHN Coordinator works beside you to implement your plan
  • The plan is regularly reviewed to meet your needs.

Why choose our VHN Service?
  • Make a plan for ongoing study, work or community participation once you have left school
  • Get support for the activities you like doing now
  • Set new goals
  • Expand your horizons
  • Try new things
  • Participate in community services and activities
  • Get out and about
  • Make new friends
  • Learn new skills
  • Make your own choices
  • Lead a fulfilling life
  • Live your preferred life

Referral Form can be downloaded using the download button. Once you complete the form please email it to northable@northable.org.nz.

If you would like any further information about our VHN Services please contact us on 0508 637 200 or email  northable@northable.org.nz, alternatively message.

About us

Employment is one of the biggest factors that lock tāngata whaikaha (people with disabilities) out of society. Raising work and career opportunities provides an essential place for connection and lifts the model for next-generation practices.

Āhei is a service provided by NorthAble that works to provide meaningful, enjoyable work opportunities for tāngata whaikaha. We bring partner employers and businesses together with motivated members of the disabled community, creating a meaningful employment future for tāngata whaikaha.

We want to invest in diversity development to see a fair representation of tāngata whaikaha working across organisations to reflect the communities we live in and assist in further the independence of the community. Our partner organisations share this vision, and we offer the support to implementing diverse and inclusive practices and develop our interns to bring their enriched perspectives into the workplace.

Become an Intern

We understand that society disables individuals, and the employment sector can be no different. The Āhei program is an internship that removes barriers to the workforce by providing direct access to corporate, commercial, non-government and community organisations across Whangarei so tāngata whaikaha (people with disabilities) can participate in work.

Our Approach

Step 1: Workshops

Attend intern workshops that help prepare you for work placement.

Step 2: Matching

We find a suitable work placement match between interns and our partner organisations.

Step 3: Placement Experience

Spend six months in your individually matched work placement, gaining experience on the job.

Step 4: Learning and Development

Attend evidence-based development workshops to build work relationships, communication skills and develop other skillsets related to your placement.

Step 5: Graduation

Attend a graduation ceremony at the end of a placement together with your fellow interns.

Why Āhei


Āhei has a team of mentors to guide you through every step of your internship placement, from commencement to graduation.


We guide you through your employment development with workshops, training, peer sessions and job placement to provide learning opportunities along the way.


We provide opportunities to grow professionally in the workplace and personally through an alternative approach to the program that supports your individual learning needs.


We help you build social connections with peers through a buddy system and mentorship. We actively work to create a collegial atmosphere between you and your fellow interns.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Aged between 15 to 24 years old
  • Have a disability that is likely to last six months or longer
  • Available for the six-month internship placement and committed to participating in the full length of the program
  • A New Zealand citizen (or hold an appropriate visa)
  • There are no other set formal qualifications required, but applicants must be able to reasonably carry out the full length of the internship’s job placement and workshops

The Ideal Applicant

  • A long-term desire to be employed
  • Understand your disability as an individual or have a willingness to understand and self-advocate (we can help with this)
  • Willingness to participate and engage with others, upholding the values of the Āhei project and the Enabling Good Lives approach.

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Become a Partner

Āhei works to provide internship placements for tāngata whaikaha (people with disabilities) into government, commercial, corporate and non-profit organisations.

Why Āhei?


Āhei has a team with expertise to guide partner organisations and interns through the program.


We offer disability competency training by specialists in the field to our partners and individualised support for host business with interns in work placement roles.


We are connected to various community organisations and network with our partner businesses with other authorities and diversity initiatives in the sector.


Our interns create a talent pool that is diverse, which in turn diversifies and adds immeasurable value to your business profile and social capital.


We create network of businesses across the region, creating a community of like-minded organisations.

How You Can Help

  • Active partnership

Provide placement opportunities for our interns

  • Passive partnership

Sponsorship of events associated to Āhei

Or talk to us about exploring other ways to collaborate

How active partnership works


We meet on-site to discuss the program and what you can offer an intern. We then conduct a site assessment to help ensure we select the most appropriate intern for your environment.


We select an intern from our talent pool according to their interests and your needs for a purposeful placement.


We provide training to Āhei interns using the ‘i am capable’ framework along their internship journey.


The Āhei team provides ongoing mentoring and assistance to interns and partners, ensuring a well-supported experience for everyone.

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VHN - Very High Needs
Bronwyn Collett

Facilitation Services Manager


027 274 9449

Sharon Tahere

Facilitation Services Lead Facilitator


021 062 7643

Cheyenne Harris

Facilitation Services Lead Facilitator


021 198 1835

Mari David

Service Facilitator


Anne Leahy

Service Facilitator


Anne-Marie Morgan

Service Facilitator



Gina Johnston

Service Facilitator


Have a question about this, or any of our other services?

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