Meet The Team

The HALO Training team consists of leaders who have real-world leadership experience. Leaders who know what it takes to lead high performing teams, in complex environments. We share the lessons learned and provide practical leadership tools that apply directly to business.

Tony Groves

Co Founder and Lead Trainer

Tony’s professional experience spans 16 years in the military and security community, where he specialised in intelligence operations and risk management. Tony’s operational deployments include Timor-leste, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Tony is a co-founder of HALO Training, and has a passion for helping people overcome the challenges of leadership through his lessons learned from the battlefield, as well as overcoming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and alcoholism. He holds a Master’s degree in Counter-terrorism Studies, and a Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership.   

Maria Topia-Groves

Co Founder and Operations Manager

As co founder and operations manager of HALO Training, Maria supports the team by running the day to day operations at HALO. She works alongside Tony, on developing HALO’s long term strategy, building it’s capabilities and providing purpose and direction for the organisation to achieve it’s mission.

Maria has an extensive background in customer service gained from a vast range of diverse industries including hospitality, construction, media and health and wellness. She thrives on innovation, navigating adversity and challenging the status quo. She is a passionate and driven strategic thinker with a wealth of experience innovating, motivating, building, deploying and leading.

Maria is a licenced private investigator and is currently working towards completing a diploma in strategic leadership.


Pieta Durrant

Operational and administrative support

Originally trained as an architectural drafts person, Pieta has an extensive design background in graphic design with hands on experience working with companies such as Kathmandu and Athfield Architects. 

Pieta works hard as a part of the HALO team working on all technical design tasks and supporting Maria in her role. She thrives under pressure and has a can do attitude. She is driven to accomplish complex tasks and strives to achieve excellence in anything she puts her hands to.

When Pieta is not working with the HALO team, you will find her behind the scenes of her two other companies Pilgrim Cafe and Sammy Bags, which she runs alongside her husband David and their two children, Sailor and Soren. 


Darren Folau


Darren’s professional background spans 28 years as a Police Officer, the majority of which was spent in the Criminal Investigation Branch where he specialised in areas of Child Protection, National Security and Organised Crime.  

When not working in partnership with HALO, you will find Darren running his business, Healthy Fit Strong Ltd which delivers personal, organisational and community health and wellbeing coaching and development. 

He’s earned himself a Bachelor of Health Science degree and qualifications in fitness, strength and conditioning and nutrition as well as being awarded a Queens Service Medal for services to the New Zealand Police.

James Burtin


James has worked for NZDF for over 11 years in a variety of roles. This includes being a uniformed section commander in the infantry, and multiple civilian roles in the Institute for Leader Development, Health and Safety Directorate, Navy Office of Strategy Management, and NZDF Enterprise Analytics. He has also spent time in the private sector working as a Senior Business Consultant for the Big 4, and Manager of Analytics and Insights for Trade Me.

James has earned himself a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Criminology, a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Industrial/Organisational Psychology, and is currently completing his Masters in Applied Data Science. 

Paul Thoroughgood


As a part of his 27 years as a Police Officer in the New Zealand Police, Paul joined the Armed Offender Squad (AOS) in 1990.  A year later he joined the Special Tactics Group (STG), where he worked as an Operator over the next 11 years. After being promoted to Sergeant he became one of the two team leaders for Southern STG.

Paul was involved in many pre-plan operations and responded to numerous emergency callouts and also worked with international partners in Australia and the Pacific region. After leaving the Police in 2012, Paul completed a building apprenticeship as a Carpenter. 

With a passion for helping others be their best Paul is a life-long learner who believes if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backwards. 

Craig Gilbert


Craig’s professional background includes 21 years as a Police Officer, Detective, and instructor at the New Zealand Police School of Leadership. He is an excellent trainer and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the HALO team along with key leadership insights and de-escalation tools, having trained police officers and having to apply these to himself and his team as part of the Armed Offenders Squad. When he’s not collaborating with HALO, you will find Craig busy running his consultancy firm (Lead Consulting) which specialises in conflict management, staff safety training and workplace security and investigations.


Our leadership workshops are designed to help your organisation further develop its leadership capability.

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