About us

Our name and our values - courage, integrity and imagination - are inspired by brave little, stunt-flying hummingbirds. They are pollinators who can fly in any direction, see a different colour spectrum, and create new hybrids.

No wonder there is a 'hummingbird effect': innovation in one field triggered by change in another.

Our name also gives a nod to Karen's childhood love of the hummingbird stamps on packages sent from her family in Trinidad.

Karen Vaughan


KV glade (2)

I've had 25+ years in vocational learning research, senior leadership, governance and facilitation. These have taught me a great deal about the way that contexts shape perspectives, relationships, ethics and learning opportunities. I bring this unique background to conflict resolution and education strategy.

My former roles include: Director on the Board of the Open Polytechnic; Head of Stakeholder Relations at the Royal New Zealand College of GPs; and Chief Researcher at the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, where I led its Ethics Committee and 30+ research projects and teams.

I've published 50+ good practice guides, articles and reports on vocational education systems, apprenticeship learning, the future of work and career pathways. These have influenced high-profile government initiatives including: Women in Trades; Vocational Pathways; Engineering e2e; and the Review of the NCEA. 

Focusing on how learning actually happens has led me into diverse settings – building sites, prisons, doctors’ consulting rooms, youth training programmes, aged-care facilities, army barracks - where I’ve  interviewed more than 1000 people about capability and meaning in their work and lives.

I believe people are at their best when making their own clear decisions. Nobody ever enters mediation saying they'd like to learn something. Yet facing major challenges is a launchpad for significant learning in life. It’s the basis of my approach: fostering clients' capacity to make meaningful choices and progress.

I mediate with individuals, teams, families and communities. In particular, I work with clinicians and other health professionals, educators, and construction apprentices and supervisors. As an Associate at Te Ngāpara Centre for Restorative Practice at Victoria University of Wellington, I design and teach courses, and consult on restorative engagement for organisations.

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Credentials and affiliations

PhD in Education  |  MA (Hons)  |  PGDip Business  |  L4 Cert Te Reo Māori

Accredited Mediator, Resolution Institute

Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Provider

Panel Member, Competence Authority, Teaching Council of Aotearoa

Board Member, Work-Integrated Learning New Zealand

Community Representative, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Mediator, Employee Assistance Resolution Service, Victoria University of Wellington

Andrew Kear


AK profile

I have been privileged to be deeply involved in many major developments in education management, industrial relations, and occupational safety and health.

I was the Post-Primary Teachers' Association's Lead Advocate for more than ten years, and served on advisory groups across the education sector. As Manager of Schools’ Monitoring at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, I led the agency's relationship-management with schools and communities during implementation of the NCEA.

In a decade as GM at the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), I developed its workplace-based assessment system, since emulated by other industry organisations. I also established a community of practice of more than 200 assessors and moderators, and led national capability-building workshops. I am the co-author of the suite of resources used by more than 30,000 building and construction apprentices for the New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry.

As National Operations Manager at the former Department of Labour, I established new systems for embedding certification in the Health and Safety inspectorate. I served on numerous advisory panels for ministries and ministers of the crown, including the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

My work has focused on developing systems that support individuals to learn better and be more productive, and to have their achievements and skills recognised. Too many bureaucratic processes actually create hurdles that get in the way of these simple goals. A background in industrial relations dispute resolution has given me an unshakeable belief that solutions can be found and the needs of individuals and groups can be met.