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Meet Our Team


Alan Kuyper

Operations Manager

Alan was born in South Africa and emigrated to New Zealand in 2006 with his wife Lizette and two boys. Their boys have since left home and joined up with partners, which gives Alan and Lizette a bit more freedom around home and holiday time. The whole family love fishing and go out as often as they can. They enjoy the outdoors and go tramping and biking all over the country.​


Alan says he is a people leader that leads by example and loves to see teams grow and succeed. He is an experienced electronics engineer and has been managing teams and projects in Local Government, Health, IT and Aerospace sectors for more than 20 years and completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Management at Waikato University Business School in 2012.


Maria Cleland

Office Manager, Buddy
and Event Co-ordinator

Maria was born in England, and came to New Zealand in 1987. For 22 years she lived on a 3500-acre sheep and beef farm but recently downsized to a lifestyle block.
She competed on her own horses for many years and worked extensively as a groom for a top 3 Day Event competitor while in the UK.


She is an experienced Administrator, and has many years of working with the public, and organising public sporting events.

She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of the vulnerable children and women that are struggling in our communities and looking forward to seeing many more lives changed at Hope Rising Farm.


Eve Cunnane

Programme Manager, Buddy
and Arts Therapist

Eve joined us initially in 2014 as a general volunteer, then left to study and later returned to us with a Master's in Arts Therapy and became a Buddy.


Eve also does arts therapy sessions with our students.
She loves the way the farm provides a unique mix of creativity, animal experience and time in the outdoors.


Eve's enthusiasm is infectious, her ready smile and can-do belief in her students encourages them to try new things.  



Rachel Ralph

Founder and Buddy

Rachel founded Hope Rising Farm in 2012 and since then has supported students, as well as working in Buddy training, animal care, communications and everything in between!


Rachel is a connector and is always engaging with people around her, supporting others and making new friends. Rachel has an un-ending passion for helping young people and women. 
She won volunteer of the year in the 2022 Volunteer Excellence Awards!

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Rosie Cleland

Equine and Farm Manager
and Buddy

Rosie has been a volunteer with Hope Rising since 2016.  Over the years she has helped with equine training and being a Buddy.


From a young age she rode horses for other people, however didn’t get the opportunity to purchase her own horse until she was an adult. The many years of riding horses on behalf has has given Rosie a vast knowledge and a lot of experience in the equine industry. 

She has also worked along side a farrier, and handled young and troublesome ponies around the Waikato.


Rosie is inspired by seeing the change in young people as they discover relationship with animals.


Heidi Reid

Assistant Equine Manager and Buddy

Heidi has been working with horses for over ten years, riding and educating young horses, chasing beef cows on the farm and teaching lessons to a variety of students.

She volunteered at Waikato Equitherapy (riding for disabled) and eventually became the Assistant Centre Coordinator for 4 years.


She has a couple horses of her own and rides both English and Western depending on what she's doing. 

Heidi's favorite thing about teaching is seeing students' confidence grow in themselves and in their relationship with their horse.

Meet Our Volunteers


Mikayla  Lagnore

Hi my name is Mikayla. I am in year 13 and I'm homeschooled. My interests are horses and lots of other type of animals.


I heard about Hope Rising Farm from my friend and became a volunteer in 2020. I love volunteering because it gives me an opportunity to do heaps of different activities with the animals and have fun. I would recommend volunteering because it's so much fun. Everyone here is great and you get to do things you've probably never done before.


My favorite pony is Tango because he reminds me of myself. He has lots of energy and likes to be crazy sometimes and we both love jumping.


Naomi Pennings

Hi, my name is Naomi and I'm one of the volunteers at Hope Rising. I live on a dairy farm just outside of Hamilton with my parents and all my animals.

I have two horses called Molly and Ranger, a dog called Boots, and 2 bunnies. My mum also has a horse. We both enjoy trekking over the farm together and sometimes going out with them.


I love helping at Hope Rising, it's a great place! Everyone there is super friendly. It's super fun working with all the animals and helping out.


Keisha Gilling

Hi, I'm Keisha. 

I'm homeschooled and I've had animals around me my whole life. I love building strong relationships with them.

I also enjoy helping people and the community. At Hope Rising I am able to do
this and there are always smiles mixed in!

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Mark Wairepo

Hi I'm Mark.

I joined Hope Rising in early 2021 as a buddy.


I've had lots of different life experiences including engineering, nursing, tutoring at the YMCA and coaching youth rugby. 

I love walking alongside the youth at Hope Rising Farm and giving them the opportunity to build confidence whilst learning new things. 


Isolde Pennings

My name is Isolde and this is Milo, my Kaimanawa. I pleasure ride with my youngest daughter Naomi.

I live on a dairy farm near Hamilton.
I’m also mum to six, mostly adult children.

I have helped at Hope Rising on and off for about 2 years now. I love Hope Rising because of the great team of people who work there. They have a genuine love for the people that come to Hope Rising.

I also enjoy seeing the connection many people make with the horses and ponies as they work with them and learn about how amazing equines truly are! Most of all I love Hope Rising's philosophy and mission.

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