Clown Doctors New Zealand

We bring JOY & LAUGHTER to the children in hospitals, LIFT the SPIRITS of people in need and contribute to making our society more HEARTFELT & HUMOROUS  

You are here: Welcome / About / Our Staff

Our Management                        

The founders and managers of the Trust are Prof. Thomas Petschner and Rita Noetzel.  They develop, manage and control the day to day operation of the organisation including strategy, fundraising and marketing, administration and accounting, clown training, creative development, medical support and hospital co-ordination. This small but dedicated management team carries the responsibility for the operations of Clown Doctors.

CEO & Creative Director

Prof. Thomas Petschner is the embodiment of Clown Doctor, combining his theatrical background and his medical expertise.  He grew up in Europe, next door to a theatre which was his playground and determined his future as a performer, writer and director, which meant he was involved in the theatre on many levels. 

After a number of years and a successful career, he extended his horizons and specialised in nutritional medicine and macrobiotics.  His studies led him to explore the art of traditional diagnostics in ancient cultures and the realm of Integrated Diagnostics. He completed his second PhD in complementary medicine and used his world-renowned expertise in Facial Diagnostics & Body Language predominantly for working with actors, models and public figures.

After moving to New Zealand he met Rita at the medical centre where they both worked and asked if she would be keen to support him and start a Clown Doctors programme in New Zealand, and they haven’t looked back. Thomas has also created the worldwide first specialised academic education in Medical Clowning and founded the International Institute for Medical Clowning, a social enterprise at Steinbeis University Berlin.


Programme Director and Team Co-ordinator

Rita Noetzel was born in Canada, and worked in Switzerland for five years as a bilingual PA before moving to New Zealand. She comes from a holistic health care background, and has a number of qualifications in various forms of massage therapy as well as being a Dr. Hauschka facial therapist. She has worked at an integrative medical centre for many years, initially as a receptionist, then as practice manager and now as an independent therapist, so she understands the health care sector and how to work in it.

Rita is passionate about humour for health and sees clown doctors as holistic health care and believes that being able to laugh is an important part of daily life.  Everyone should be given this right and clown doctors can create a bridge between humour and health treatment, increasing the quality of life and the well-being of those in medical care.

Organising clown doctors can be a tough job, but it’s one Rita takes great pride in and she’s very proud of the national team and is often referred to as ‘the mother of clowns’. 


Research and Development Co-Ordinator

Dr. Janet De Lu is our vital volunteer and a recent asset to the Trust. Originally from the United States she has called New Zealand home for many years. She has degrees from Brown University, the University of Illinois and the University of Denver. Shortly after retiring from a long career in IT Janet heard that the Clown Doctors were looking for help and saw it as an opportunity to make good use of the extra time she now had in her life.  She’s more than happy to pitch in wherever help is needed, and is a real help when it comes to our statistics, reporting systems, calculations of visits and teams as well for the fundraising side things. But apart from all her various skills Janet brightens our office atmosphere with her friendly personality, creative input and a great sense of humour.

If you like to smile LIKE the real smile-makers on