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I was born in the USA and attained a B.A. in Liberal Arts. Then after travelling through Europe and Africa, I married a New Zealander and we traveled through Asia to NZ in 1973. We have two adult sons.
I became a Mahayana Buddhist in Nepal in 1973. With my husband and two other people we started the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in NZ, Dorje Chang Institute, in 1976. In 1995, I founded and am currently the Managing Director of Amitabha Hospice Service Trust. I have been on the Executive of the New Zealand Buddhist Council since 2009. I was a Registered Nurse from 1992-2016. My nursing experience has led me to specialise in Palliative care. I was critically injured in a car accident in 2008, which gave me a lot of experience of being on the other side of the caring equation.
In my work as a nurse with dying patients in their own homes, I felt my usefulness was more as a spiritual companion supporting their transition than as a medical practitioner.

Ecie Hursthouse - Founder/Managing Director

OUR Board Of Trustees


Heather Kempton


I am originally from North Devon, England, but also have strong connection to Wales, having lived in North Wales for 10 years, where I completed her BSc and PhD in Psychology at Bangor University. I then moved to Auckland to take up a position as Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Massey University. My teaching and research interests are in cognitive psychology (attention, memory, emotion etc.) and my current research focus is on mindfulness/meditation. I have lived here for 14 years, am a practicing Buddhist (Vajrayana: Karma Kagyu tradition), and have completed Level 1 training of Buddhist Chaplaincy, with Ecie as my supervisor. I am a mother of one, and am delighted to be able to support Amitabha Hospice by Chairing the Board of Trustees.


Wilhelmina Flick


I was born in Wellington to Dutch parents and later married a Dutchman. He recently passed away after a very happy 44-year marriage. He was the house husband; I was the breadwinner. We have three adult sons, all of whom I am very proud. I am a qualified accountant and have worked at all levels as an Accountant, CFO and Director during my career. Currently I work full time as Finance Manager for Streamliners in Christchurch.
I thankfully reconnected with the Dharma in 2000 falling into the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. It had been a long search and I felt, finally I have come home. I am a trustee of Rigdrol Yeshe Buddhist Institute here in Christchurch as well as being their treasurer. In addition, I am trustee of a sister centre in Nelson, Karma Choeyang Ling. I am treasurer and trustee of both New Zealand Buddhist Council and now Amitabha Hospice. I feel my corporate career has been of great benefit to these positions allowing me to bring many skills to the various entities. I was in the first intake of Buddhist Chaplains back in 2013 feeling a strong pull towards service. I have been nurturing this calling ever since and work mainly with folk in the community, helping them live well until they die. I get called in at any stage of their journey and feel it a privilege to be involved. I am under supervision with both Amitabha Hospice and Nurse Maude Hospice in Christchurch. I have a boarder collie called Red Dog. We spend a lot of time walking on beaches and in forests. In my spare time love reading, doing Tai Chi, spending time with friends and family and furthering my Buddhist practice.


Stephen Le Couteur

Property Manager

Stephen LeCouteur has been a Trustee of AHTS for approximately eight years including some  two years as Chairman. His  portfolio is overseeing maintenance of AHS buildings and property and managing the rental flat and formerly the rental house. He lives with his wife Imelda in their home in New Windsor.

Stephen’ background has been diverse, with careers in newsprint media journalism,  house decorating contracting, business education  marketing and enrolments for AUT, Henley Management College (NZ  branch), and  residential property management.

In the past, Stephen has served on committees for the YHA (Dunedin branch), and the Auckland Outdoor Activities Club.

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Sabine Hemmingsen-Jensen


I was born in Germany and immigrated to New Zealand in 1995. My background and passion are in health, fitness and office management. I have worked as a personal fitness trainer, massage therapist and registered physiotherapist. Having completed an Advanced Diploma of Business Systems I have also worked in the IT Industry. Nowadays I am managing our office at PDB Homes Ltd. My husband and I have three young sons.

I am a long-time student of Buddhist Dharma and have received teachings from various Mahayana Buddhist teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

I have been happy to support Amitabha Hospice Service since its early days in the late 1990ies. I volunteered in patients’ homes, did administrative and fundraising work, and sit as a secretary on the Board of Trustees.

OUR Team


Vijay Kumar


I have been a NZ Charted Accountant since 2001 and have more than 30 years of experience across 3 continents. For me, accountancy is a service; that’s the very reason I have supported Amitabha Hospice for over 10 years as their accountant.

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