Cassino is a Stop Smoking practitioner from the Waikato region. Having been highlighted in a recent New Zealand article, we made contact with her to further celebrate her mahi and asked her a few questions about what she does. This is what she had to say...

Ko te tuatahi, mihi ki to tātou Matua i te Rangi, nānā nei i hanga ngā mea katoa, whakamoemititia me whakapaingia tāna ingoa i ngā wā katoa.  Me mihi hoki ki nga tini aitua kua whiti ki tū arai ki te noho i te taha o te Atua, haere, haere, haere oti ra. Huri noa ki te hunga ora, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā rā tātou katoa!

Taku Mana, Taku Mana Māori,

He mana māori motuhake,

I heke iho mai ra Te Huatahi,

Mo te tau mai Tawhiti, Te Auripo, Te Autaha,

Ko Hinehaowhenua nānā ko Hinekaewa,

Ko Muturangi

Ko Tanepawhero ka moe i a Tuariki i heke iho mai kia Tamatekapua, nānā Ko Wahiawa, ka puta mai ko Turirangi, ka moe i a Rongomaihuatahi heke iho mai i a Porou Ariki, Ka puta ko Te Kuti, ka puta ko tTe Wera, Ka puta Ko te Haua, Ko Apanui e…

Ko Aoriki te maunga,

Ko Waipapa te awa,

Ko Mataatua te waka,

Ko Whitianga te marae,

Ko Paeakau te hapū,

Ko Te Whanau-ā-Apanui te iwi,

Ko Apanui-Ringa-Motu te tangata,

Ko Cassino Smith ahau


What other types of work have you done before your current role?

In my mid 20s, I worked as a teacher aide for 4 years and almost became a teacher. I passed my first year of teacher training but had to go back into full-time work due to unforeseen circumstances.  

I worked briefly for Work and Income but felt I could do more for people on the other end of the table and accepted the invitation to work as a social worker for Family Start in my home town of Opotiki for two years.  

In 2007, we moved to Hastings and carried on working in Family start but was then given the opportunity to work as a Aukati Kaipaipa Kaimahi specialising in helping pregnant mums and Māori stop smoking in 2008.

I found myself working and supervising staff and tamariki in a unique after kura programme servicing a tikanga Māori-based programme, then had a break for two years when I became a sole parent to take care of my children.

I went back into the workforce and began working in mental health with community and teen residential care before I remarried and moved to Hamilton 2015. However, the biggest role I have ever had to date, and probably for the rest of my life, has been raising my children.  It’s the hardest life skill anyone can have!

How did you get into your current role?

I have to acknowledge both Glenn Halbert and Doctor Hayden McRobbie who I met in 2008.  Glenn and I started our training in Aukati Kaipaipa in Wellington. However, he remained in this sector and although I worked in other areas, I have always been passionate about supporting whānau and friends in stopping smoking.

They helped me decide to apply for the role and I have been in it for almost 18 months.

What does a typical day for you look like?

Lately, I have been supporting my husband and daughter-in-law to become quit coaches. They have just recently completed the two-day hub training with Inspiring.  They are currently under my guidance until they complete their studies, training and gain a little more experience. This is a first for me, so I am still learning how to manage a team while doing what I do on a daily basis.


It usually starts the night before, preparing for the following day’s work – calling and/or sending text reminders to new and existing clients regarding appointments; collating paper work of those clients I’m scheduled to visit or those I haven’t been able to contact during my down times.

My day always starts and ends with karakia and my diary is my most essential tool.  Some days, it works well where things will go to schedule, and other days it may not work out due to no one at home, or visits being rescheduled.  

There are times I may walk into my client’s home and they have other members of family or friends who are keen to enrol onto the programme.  I usually strike while the pan’s hot otherwise I might miss the opportunity to capture them. It may make me late for my next appointment but if that happens, I usually excuse myself to make contact and either text or call them to let them know I’m running late.  It’s important to always be courteous.

Depending on what I have on for the day, my visits may start between 8.30am and 10am and finish between 2 –and 6pm.  I am open to working in the weekend if clients request it, and I ensure they understand my commitment also requires their commitment to be available and to strive to complete the programme successfully.  

What are some of the challenges you face?

  • Time management has been trying. Sometimes.  I have had to be careful otherwise time can run away from me and I find myself burning the midnight oil.  
  • Sometimes, it is unforeseen circumstances where sickness, whānau dynamics, travelling to an appointment and no one being there after arranging to meet with them.  All in all, time management has its highs and lows.
  • Then there’s learning how to manage myself, my business, and  now, currently learning how to manage a team.
  • Sometimes it’s coming across clients who have other organisations giving them incorrect information can be a stumbling block and (sometimes) indirectly to my services. For example, clients being told they are better off smoking or clients being denied access to NRT support because they have been told it’s not good for them and they find themselves smoking again.  
  • Passing smokers without approaching them and offering services.  I am sometimes unsure whether it’s appropriate when someone is in the middle of shopping, or talking with work colleagues during their breaks.  
  • Trying to make sure to meet my quit targets and keeping clients completely smokefree during the whole four weeks.
  • Keeping clients on task every week can be hard especially when things crop up for either the client or myself and having to re-commit them to continuing with the programme.
  • Working from home can sometimes  be a distraction especially when we have our children coming in and out.  I do recommend having a separate space.
  • There are challenges we least suspect, but the key thing to remember, is to be humble if it’s your mistake and take responsibility for it, “think outside the box”, embrace the challenges and know that you can overcome them with the right support.  Keep going because you can learn from these challenges as to know what to do should you come across them again.


What are some of the joys of your work?

  • Receiving referrals, making contact and meeting with clients.
  • Enrolling clients and seeing them progress in their personal “Quit Smoking Journey”, whether they are successful or not.  In my mind, the clients are successful, for having the courage to ask for support.
  • The client completing the programme successfully and presenting them with their incentive.
  • Making and building positive lasting relationships where trust has been formed as some clients are more inclined to contact me directly should they relapse and need to re-enrol.
  • Catching up with former clients and finding they are still smokefree after six months. I call these clients, “Champions!”, when they have successfully quit smoking, saved money, quit other addictive substances and even turned their whole lives around.  It is truly amazing and very humbling!
  • Being motivating and encouraging throughout the client’s journey, striving to provide positive experiences during their attempt to quit whether successful or not.  This helps motivate me to keep striving to work harder to support my clients on daily.
  • Enrolling ALL pregnant mums and striving for a 50 percent plus success rate.
  • Travelling near and far to help all to quit smoking.  Meeting new and existing clients, being able to support them and striving to provide quality services.
  • Having a team to work alongside me with the same purpose and goal in mind, supporting our clients to quit smoking.
  • Having monthly provider meetings is awesome to support, to share and bounce off each other both our successes and challenges.  Networking is really essential for me and my team as I know how it helps us continue to work together for the same cause in helping New Zealand become smokefree by 2025.
  • Having quality training that also enhances our experiences and knowledge.  Attending monthly webinar training in delivering the programme effectively and efficiently while continuing to upskill myself and my team in providing quality services.
  • Working with people from all walks of life, both with my clients, whānau, colleagues (not only in smoking but other health sectors such as diabetic, breast and smear screening nurses), to name a few.

What words of wisdom do you have for anyone wanting to be a stop smoking practitioner?

  • Knowledge is power, and experiences are essential in this kind of mahi.  Having the ability to communicate with people in ALL walks is not imperative but still important when motivating others to want to make changes for, “a better quality of life”, which can be empowering.
  • Make sure you have strong supports around you, those who you are contracted to, utilising the training programmes and the staff that assist with training, building strong networks with other stop smoking providers, as well as getting involved at a community level, supporting in various local,  regional, and (even) national promotions with other health services connected with or to stop smoking services, i.e.  breast screening, diabetes etc.
  • Being an ex-smoker is ideal but not necessary, although most clients want to hear your quit smoking story or journey on how you became smokefree. However, whether you’re an ex-smoker or not, showing the client you have confidence, knowledge, passion and a genuine desire to support them in quitting smoking will help gain their trust and faith in you regardless of your background.  
  • Treat your clients as a person, not a number. This will help them feel their journey is all about them and not about you. Showing them that you are willing to go the extra mile, for example, I have gone to drop off NRT support in the middle of the night while on my holiday, to help a  client refrain from smoking.  I have allowed clients to contact me should they feel the need to talk to someone. (However, this is an individual preference). I tend to gauge what I can do to go the extra mile without complicating things.
  • Have faith in your clients to take the lead in their journey; the majority of them have their own answers, and they often do know what’s best for them.  Let them gauge what advice to give (OR NOT), sometimes just a listening ear or physical support is what they may need.
  • Listen to your clients, always take time to look at the whole picture, (emotionally, spiritually, physically, verbally and non-verbally), building their trust by allowing them to express themselves, whether it’s about smoking or not. (I recommend this as some clients often unpack other things before eventually getting around to the smoking component.)
  • Making no judgement and reassuring them by affirming what you heard from them. Clarifying and repeating what you have heard back to them shows you have listened attentively.
  • NRT support is essential, but not always the first thing I offer straight away. Look at all options after discussing NRT and allow them to figure out what option will suit them.  If they don’t know, this is usually when I intervene and give suggestions, yet they still need to make their own decisions.
  • Lastly, just be yourself, love what you do, know that you are making a difference in people’s lives every day you go out and support them to stop smoking, “once and for all!”

Should anyone have any queries, please feel free to contact me anytime.  I would be privileged to assist and support anyone thinking about working as a provider.

Nō reira, he mihi mahana kia koutou, kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui ia koutou mahi tino taumaha e hāpai nei i a tātou katoa.