Meet the team
More than 44 years in the job and Hans is still enthusiastic about the working day. “There is never a day when I am not challenged, not learning something new, not getting great pleasure from my clients and their pets.”
Hans was the first veterinarian in New Zealand to qualify as a Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in both cat and dog internal medicine.
Although his post-graduate training is in medicine it is his surgical repertoire that is most in demand from referring veterinary practices.
Hans now works part-time, splitting his time between clinical work and practice management. For many years Hans edited the magazine for pet owners PAWS for thought. Hans also gives time to the BESTPRACTICE™ committee of the NZ Veterinary Association, the committee tasked with improving the quality of clinical veterinary practice and which oversees the BESTPRACTICE™ quality assurance program for vet practices. In 2016 he received the Outstanding Service Award from the New Zealand Veterinary Association.
Hans finds Nelson is perfect for outdoor activities. Walking on the beach and in the hills with Hungarian Viszla Jack, sea swimming, biking and tramping, passions he shares with his wife Susan Stokes. He enjoys singing with the Nelson Male Voice Choir for something completely different. He always makes time for reading! Hans and Susan have two sons, Jens and Thomas. With both overseas that’s a powerful reason to travel!
BVSc MVSc (Hons.) MANZCVS (Small Animal Medicine)
Todd joined the team at Halifax in 2003. Focus is one of Todd’s strong points, in fact, Todd began to focus on his career in veterinary science at age 5. After watching several episodes of “All Creatures Great and Small” this was to be his life’s ambition. Luckily lots of hard work (and perhaps a little too much socialising) paid off and this ambition became a reality. A Massey graduate of 1994 Todd spent his first years in practice in South Australia then returned to Massey University in 1996 to undertake a post-graduate training program in small animal internal medicine. He gained a Masters of Veterinary Science in 2000 after studying and researching critical care nutrition in dogs.
A member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists by examination in small animal medicine, Todd has acted as both examiner and mentor for prospective candidates. Currently, Todd is involved in referral medicine cases and diagnostic imaging and is pursuing an interest in diagnostic cytology and more recently dentistry. In June of 2007 Todd attended a PennHip® training program and is now one of an increasing number of PennHip veterinarians in New Zealand certified to perform this method for early detection of hip dysplasia in dogs.
Todd enjoys spending his spare time with wife Lucy and their three children Emma, Sam and Charlotte. Mountain biking, fishing and golf are some of his favourite activities. Coco a beautiful tabby torti rules the roost!
“Working at Halifax is an absolute pleasure – it not only allows me to follow my dream but I am blown away by the passion the team brings to enhancing the the relationship between owner and pet. Halifax certainly is at the forefront of enriching this bond and ensuring wellness is maintained throughout life”.
Dominik joined the Halifax team in 2017. He studied in Vienna and worked as a mixed animal practitioner in Austria for several years. After meeting his now-wife Helena, who grew up in Nelson, they decided to move (back) to New Zealand. Having graduated overseas meant he had to go through the gruelling National Veterinary Examination process to have his degree recognised.
After passing all the necessary exams, he did a short stint at the Rural Service Centre in Takaka before Hans offered him his current position.
Dominik takes a keen interest in emergency medicine and surgery and (unbelievably) even enjoys after hour shifts.
When he isn’t tied up with work and family life (his son Tristan is 4 now) he enjoys the stunning NZ outdoors either out on the sea or on top of a mountain.
Kim graduated from Massey University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. She also completed additional qualifications in Emergency Medicine with the University of Sydney and a Marine Mammal Medic course to help stranded whales! She worked in Wellington for 2 years following graduation from vet school before locuming all over Australia and the UK for 9 years, returning to NZ in 2009.
Clinically, Kim is ‘super passionate about doing the best I can for every pet in every way to ensure they are healthy, happy and pain free.’ She loves helping all pets and their people and has a special soft spot for small furries like guinea pigs, rabbits and rats. This has brought her something of a loyal following among our owners of exotic pets and her extra gentle feline handling techniques also make her a favourite with owners of nervous cats (and our nurses!).
Outside of work Kim loves enjoying the sunshine, beaches and many outdoor activities that Nelson offers as well as Ceroc dancing and spending time with friends and family. She lives with her husband and 2 extremely spoiled cats
Head Veterinary Nurse NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing
Sarah graduated from NMIT in 2001 with a NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing. Upon graduation she worked simultaneously at both Motueka Vet Centre and Halifax but Hans gradually convinced her to join us full time. Sarah has continued on at Halifax, with short breaks to have her 3 beautiful children.
Sarah became the Head Nurse at Halifax in early 2020 and is an excellent, empathic leader for our nursing team. She is passionate about hospital standards, ensuring that our patients receive the best care possible.
Sarah and her husband Richie are very busy, in addition to their three children they also have a Whippet, 2 cats and a family of rabbits to care for! Sarah greatly enjoys running and keeping very fit. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, camping and gardening.
NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing
Heidi has worked at Halifax since she did her initial training, believe it or not, that was over 25 years ago! She is usually the first one in the clinic, taking care of all hospital patients and cattery guests.
Ensuring that all animals in the clinic get the best care possible is her favourite part of the job. Heidi is also in charge of the logistics at Halifax, she is the one who makes sure we don’t run out of supplies, drugs and food.
Together with partner Steve she looks after a family of 2 kids, 2 cats and Rani, the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Playing netball used to be a favourite past time of hers but was recently replaced by providing a parent taxi service for all sorts of sporty activities.
Except when she is having a wine or two with Sarah, in that case Steve gets to taxi the lot!
NZ Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
Vania graduated from UCOL in Palmerston North in 2005. She had spent a few years working in a pet store before being offered a position at Halifax while she was on site for her vet nurse training! Vania enjoys all aspects of vet nursing, however being in surgery for the more difficult procedures is definitely her happy place – made all the more exciting for her when involving exotic pets. Vania takes a special interest in exotics and hopes to complete a further qualification in this area of nursing soon.
In her spare time Vania enjoys sitting in the sun with her Bearded Dragon (Rogue), great coffee, good books, her x-box and getting out and about on her bike. She has quite the mini zoo at home, in addition to Rogue she has tropical fish, canaries, Ghost (the grumpy rabbit), Geoff the Leopard Gecko and 3 cats (super cuddly Frost, his chunky brother Ice and ‘the ginger Ninja). Vania also regularly plays Auntie to Chris’ dog Barney, a favour they are both very grateful for!
NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing
Michele graduated from Nelson Polytech in 2000 with the NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing and joined the team at Halifax the same year, meaning she has been with us for 20 years!
Michele particularly enjoys being involved in surgical procedures, something she gets to do a lot at Halifax! She is super passionate about working with dogs, particularly German Shepherds as she is something of a GS aficionado.
With an intense interest in Canine Behaviour, Michele spends her spare time helping other dog owners train their dogs and also enjoys competing in obedience competitions.
Michele shares her home with her lovely young German Shepherd, Solo, and an elderly Jack Russell cross named Tyke.
BPhEd (Exercise Prescription), NZ National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
Chrissie graduated from the University of Otago in 2005 with a Bachelor in Physical Education majoring in Exercise Prescription. She then went on to complete her National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing (2009) and National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (2011), both at Otago Polytechnic.
Chrissie has nursed in various places all over the south island, from Dunedin to Greymouth! In 2010 she took on the Head Nurse position at the illustrious McMaster & Heap Veterinary Practice in Christchurch, where she was able to indulge her passion for being closely involved with anaesthesia and surgical procedures on a daily basis. She joined the team here at Halifax in February of 2020.
As ‘Mum’ to 5 year old Freya and 3 year old Oscar, Chrissie doesn’t have an awful lot of spare time. When she can find a moment she loves mountain biking, tramping, boxing and sea kayaking in addition to spending time with her beautiful family.
NZ National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing w Distinction
Vet Nurse Trainee
Hannah is currently studying for her National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing through Otago Polytechnic. She works at Halifax part time while completing her clinical training and we are certainly happy to have her sunny disposition around!
Hannah is in charge of our Puppy Preschool and Canine Junior classes and really enjoys this as she loves both people and the study of canine behaviour.
A born and bred Nelsonian, Hannah is living at home with the family while she studies with her naughty tabby cat Rue – an adoptee from the clinic who was brought in as a stray and ended up going home with Hannah.
Hannah loves walking dogs, yoga and binge watching TV shows as well as keeping all of the staff on our toes with her quirky sense of humour.
Performance Support Manager. NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing, BMus (Hons), PG Dip Mus
Hannah graduated from SIT in 2002 with the NZ National Certificate in Veterinary Nursing and from the University of Otago in 2006 with a Bachelor in Music (Hons) and Post Graduate Diploma Endorsed in Contemporary Music.
Hannah has always combined her love of both music and animals, working in clinical veterinary practice while also touring, recording and releasing music with her band. Hannah started nursing in the lower south island before moving to Auckland where she took on the Head Nurse position at Greenlane Vet Centre. She moved to the UK in 2011 where she became Practice Manager at a busy practice in London, eventually becoming General Manager and co-founder of The London Animal Hospital, a brand new 24-hour facility in central London. Whilst in the UK Hannah also recorded an album with Roger O’Donnell of The Cure!
A move home was recently brought forward by the arrival of COVID-19 but Hannah and her (English) partner Ben are very happy to be living in sunny Nelson after many years of grey skies in the UK!
Hannah is passionate about supporting veterinary professionals as they progress through their career and loves combining her managerial role with nursing shifts to keep her hand in when it comes to clinical practice. Topics she loves to keep learning about include analgesia, anaesthesia, canine behaviour and feline behaviour.
Lexie attended university in China, where she qualified as a Vet with a Masters in Exotic Animals. She worked at multiple vet clinics in China as well as the Animal Asia Bear Rescue Centre before joining us in 2019. Sadly, the Chinese vet qualification isn’t recognised in New Zealand so Lexie isn’t able to work as a vet here but we are very happy to benefit from her knowledge, skills and great love of all animals as part of our Vet Nurse team.
Lexie greatly enjoys spending time with patients in both the hospital and surgical setting and is passionate about high standards of inpatient care. She doesn’t yet have any pets of her own in New Zealand but fills her cup at work.
Nelson is a great spot for Lexie as she greatly enjoys running, tramping, photography and drawing. She is something of an intrepid explorer and regularly surprises us with tales of her solo weekend adventures to the tops of mountains or deep into the native bush. We never quite know where she will be off to next!
NZ National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing
Shannon graduated from the Ara Institute of Canterbury in 2020 with a New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. She was then snapped up by one of the clinics she did work experience with while a student so we were very lucky to convince her to come and join us at Halifax in December 2020.
Shannon particularly enjoys running our free New Puppy consultations as they give her a chance to really get to know owners and their new babies and offer very useful advice at a stage it can make a real difference to both. She also has an interest in senior health and arthritis management, which we hope to channel into an arthritis clinic very soon.
Shannon enjoys social soccer and touch (possibly more for the beer afterwards than for the game) and outdoor adventures such as tramping, camping, boating and diving. She is the proud mother of ‘the best tabby cat’, Harley, who was rescued from a drain as a tiny kitten. He is now not so tiny (she confesses he may actually be slightly overweight) but still brings joy to the household every day.
Sandy is our qualified Canine Behaviourist. She joined us in 2021 and is an absolute pleasure to work with for both humans and dogs. Sandy holds qualifications in both Veterinary Nursing and Canine Behaviour and has years of experience in both fields under her belt.
Sandy not only offers Canine Behavioural advice and Modification programmes but also has the practical skills needed to enable her to work more closely with owners and their dogs by providing a Day Training service for dog owners struggling to achieve the desired positive behavioural results on their own. These services are tailored to enlighten, empower, and enable owners to have a major positive influence and impact in the life of their dog and ensuing behaviour. Sandy works both in-clinic and off-site in owners’ own homes.
“Understanding your dog and knowing how to control him, develop his potential and resolve behaviour problems, emotional conflicts and frustrations are no less essential than love and respect”.
Michael W Fox