Otago Polytechnic

The Kowhai Centre provides free counselling support to the community.

Student counsellors from the Bachelor of Social Services programme offer supportive counselling to members of the public in a training environment under NZAC supervision.

Students of the programme are in their second year of training, bringing with them knowledge of theory, life experience, previous training and diversity. Students are supported by lecturing staff and counsellors within the community to provide free counselling in Dunedin which is professional, supportive and accessible.

  Services offered

The Kowhai Centre offers counselling sessions to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families in a confidential and safe setting to people who would like support to explore, clarify or resolve life's challenges such as:

  • Relationships (including couples counselling)
  • Grief and loss
  • Stress
  • Parenting (including family counselling)
  • Self-esteem
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Life changes

All students receive regular individual supervision by qualified members of a professional association such as New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).

  Child & adolescent counselling

Sometimes children and adolescents require additional support to work through problems they are experiencing. Our counselling students can help provide a safe space to talk through challenges such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Parental separation
  • Sexuality & identity
  • Friendships

Students can work with children one-on-one with the support of parents and guardians or in a family counselling setting.

  Palmerston counselling & East Otago outreach

The Kowhai Centre also offers an adult, child and youth counselling service in Palmerston at our East Otago outreach situated in Palmerston medical centre. Adults, youth and families can self-refer to the service, or we can take referrals from other services and agencies in Palmerston, including the health centre and schools. 

The East Otago outreach operates on Mondays from 10am-1pm. 

  What you can expect
  • Confidentiality
  • Professional support
  • Respectful, caring counsellors
  • Comfortable, private setting
  • A person-centred approach and other counselling models of practice
  • NZAC supervised counselling.

Jo Cook
Kowhai Centre Manager

Chris Williamson
Head of School, School of Social Services
MEd (Couns), PG Dip, MNZAC

Additional members of staff within the School of Social Services provide supervision: Dianne Begg, Jill Elder, Dr Glenda Dixon, Richard Kerr-Bell, Pam Morrison

  Hours of service

Monday 10am-1pm (East Otago outreach only)

Thursday 11.00am - 7.00pm

  Making an appointment

If you would like to make an appointment to speak to one of our Otago Polytechnic counselling students, you can phone us directly, or a referral can be made by another professional of any service, organisation or agency. Kowhai Centre is open to public. We accept donations and do not charge for services.

Make an appointment

Phone 03 479 6198 

Please leave a message on the answering machine as we are only able to take calls within the hours of service. Alternatively, please email the Kowhai Centre Manager, kowhai.centre@op.ac.nz

  Visitor Carparking

Visitor carparking is located adjacent D Block off Harbour Terrace. Please display your appointment card on your vehicle dashboard.


Kowhai Centre

G301, Level 3, G Block
Corner of Union Street and Harbour Terrace (opposite the Robertson Library)
School of Social Services, Otago Polytechnic
Dunedin 9054

Visitor carparking is located adjacent D Block off Harbour Terrace. Please display your appointment card on your vehicle dashboard.

East Otago Outreach

Palmerston Health Centre
117 District Road
East Otago 9430

Kowhai Centre student counsellors Kowhai Centre student counsellors