I specialise in family related disputes, elder care  and community based disputes.

To meet and talk with someone that you perceive has harmed you in some way, is a very difficult thing to do. I will explain the process and guide and assist you each step of the way.


The process

Your lawyer, employer, friend, family member or health professional may refer you, or you can simply refer yourself by phoning me on 021 900 145 (NZ) or +6421900145 (overseas)or emailing me,

I will ask you a few questions about the issue and who is involved and take your contact details. I will then contact the other people involved and send you all out some information about the process, the fees and any other likely costs you might incur. If all parties wish to proceed I arrange with you a first meeting.

First meeting

I meet with you and your support person and/or lawyer, if you choose to have one present. I will explain the Agreement to Mediate or an Agreement to a Facilitated Discussion and answer any of your questions about the process. If you are ready to proceed to the next step, I ask you to sign the Agreement. The Agreement will explain my role as mediator, your right to a standard of professional care and ethical responsibility from me, confidentiality and the running of the mediation process.

I will ask you about the dispute, how long it has been around, how you have previously tried to resolve it, and what outcomes you desire. I will carefully explain the process ahead and guide you through it.


Joint meeting

As long as all parties agree to meet together, we proceed to a joint meeting. If not, I manage the process in a series of individual meetings or a combination of both individual and joint meetings. The process will be tailored to the needs of the parties. I will lead you through the rough moments when resolution might seem unattainable, take time out with all parties, equip each person with ideas of how to get their views and concerns heard by the other party, and facilitate the process so that you are able to reach agreement. You are able to refer to and consult with your lawyer at any time if they are not in attendance.


When you reach agreement or settlement about any or all of the matters, you decide how you would like this written up and by whom. All parties sign and receive a copy of the Mediated Agreement.


If you do not reach settlement, you may agree as part of this process what steps you need to take next, in order to resolve the matter.


Fees are set for each hour involved in all aspects of the mediation process. Fees are usually shared evenly among the parties involved, unless another arrangement is entered into. Each party will meet their own legal costs if they chose to have their lawyer present at the meetings, or any other professional that either party may wish to be present. Please contact me for my fee schedule.

Family disputes

Family dispute resolution is a specialised field of work and requires expertise and understanding in the following areas;

  • The impact of separation for the child/ren involved

  • Understanding grief and loss

  • Understanding family systems

  • Understanding attachment theory

  • Understanding child growth and development

  • Upholding the child/ren’s voice in the mediation

  • The ability to assess safety for parties and children

  • The ability to work with high emotion

  • Understanding power and control and how this impacts on parties

  • Understanding step family integration and same-sex relationships

  • Understanding how culture and ethnicity shape family life

  • The ability to assist parents to build a co-parenting relationship and make guardianship and care decisions for their children.

My experience in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Voted as being in the top 10 family mediators in New Zealand – NZ National Business Review (July 2014).


​​My experience in family disputes is extensive. I began working with families in 1986 as a hospital based social worker in the field of child health, assisting families manage the process of dying, in the behavioural and emotional health of children, and working in elder care.


Additional to this work, I have held contracts providing Specialist Child Reports for the Family Court (2002-2007), chairing the Napier Care and Protection Resource Panel (2003-2009), providing education in domestic violence, providing Family Court counselling and mediation.


I currently provide family mediation throughout New Zealand and on-line to parties living overseas, and Voice of Child interviews.

Voice of Child Specialist

I provide Voice of Child interviews with children, for parents who wish their children’s voice to be heard, in a mediation setting.

Mediation Supervision

I provide face to face or online supervision to family dispute resolution mediators.

Older person mediation

As our population ages, more individuals and their families are facing difficult decisions about living situations, family homes, property and personal care.

These decisions can be emotional and challenging to all involved even when everyone is “on the same page.”  They become rapidly more complex and distressful when there is disagreement about what should happen or how it should happen.


Why choose older person mediation?

As we age, new stresses emerge on individuals and families and new directions need to be sought. Mediation assists with understanding and discussing the options available. Often decisions involve the entire family and mediation ensures that all people present at mediation can be heard and listened to. Families are complex and through mediation, relationships can be maintained throughout the difficult conversations that a decision making process often requires.

Mediation gives the best opportunity for a family to work together on the changes they need to make. It gives the older person the best opportunity to make decisions that are right for them and for their voice to be heard. It gives everybody the best chance to resolve their dispute with privacy, dignity and self-determination, in the shortest amount of time and with the least cost financially.


Older Person Mediation Addresses a wide variety of family concerns.

Each family’s needs are different but issues that are often discussed include:

  • Reconciliation and mending relationships

  • Inheritance, Estate and Trust matters etc.

  • Residence options

  • Family communication

  • Decision making processes

  • Including the voice of the Older Person

  • Family members’ roles and responsibilities

  • Caregiver burnout

  • Assistance to avoid court guardianships

  • Driving and transportation

  • Finances and bill paying

  • Personal property distribution

  • Legacy

  • Medical decisions

  • End of Life decision-making

  • Planning and anticipating issues before crises develop


I have  worked with older person issues in the role of social worker, adjudicator and mediator since 1986. I have worked alongside rest home facilities, residents, hospitals and carers at home, to facilitate successful transitions in and out of care. As an adjudicator for the Ministry of Social Development’s Review of Benefit Committee I have determined outcomes around older person’s benefit entitlement and have mediated and found solutions to seemingly intractable family estate issues.


I have been approved by The Retirement Commission and appointed to the AMINZ list of mediators working with Older Person disputes.

Community Disputes

I have been engaged as a mediator by sports groups, faith based groups, neighbourhood and community groups.

© 2018 Nicola Hartfield. Site created by Solved!