Meet our Team


Richard Sullivan

Chair of the Governance Group


Kirsten Ballantine

National Programme Manager
Research and Data Lead


Alexandra Ritai

Programme Coordinator
021 819 486

Olivia ID photo

Olivia Grant

Project Manager


Ashleigh Guy

Project Manager for Fertility Preservation Guidelines Project

Tristan Pettit

Chair for the AYA Standards of Care

Mandy De Silva

Mandy PohLui De Silva

Project Manager for Sedation Guidelines


Houston Murray

Project Coordinator

Governance Group

A governance group of senior-level sector experts and co-chairs of the Consumer Advisory Group are responsible for setting the national strategic direction for AYA Cancer Services in New Zealand. They will ensure the projects and activities undertaken by the Network both inform and support the high level objectives of the network.

The Governance Group members are:

  • Dr Richard Sullivan – Interim National Lead, Medical, Te Whatu Ora
  • Dr Stephen Laughton – National Child Cancer Network Clinical Lead and Paediatric Oncologist and Neuro-oncologist at Starship Blood & Cancer Centre
  • Stephanie Turner – Director Māori Health Outcomes, Health Quality & Safety Commission
  • Dr Humphrey Pullon – Cancer Clinical Advisor to Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency
  • Fionnagh Dougan – National Director, Hospital & Specialist Services, Te Whatu Ora
  • Rose Simpson – Principal Clinical Advisor, Clinical Advisory Team, Te Aho o Te Kahu, Cancer Control Agency

Richard Sullivan

The Chair is responsible for guiding the Governance Group to develop a national strategic direction for the network.

Richard is the Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Auckland Hospital, Director Cancer and Blood Directorate, Director Cancer Outcomes Auckland District Health Board and Director of the Northern Cancer Network. He is Medical Director at Canopy Cancer Care and the current Chair of the National Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Network. Richard completed his medical training at the University of Otago and was awarded FRACP in 2004. He works as a Medical Oncologist and is Principal investigator in many clinical trials in his area of expertise – Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.

Kirsten Ballantine

Kirsten Ballantine

Kirsten officially joined the Network leadership team in 2019 but her involvement with the Network goes back much further. In 2013 she co-authored the 2000-2009 AYA cancer incidence and survival analysis which contributed to the establishment of the AYA Cancer Network Aotearoa the following year. She has presented her work in this and other AYA cancer research at international conferences and in academic journals.

Kirsten also works for the National Child Cancer Network as the analyst and co-ordinator of the New Zealand Children’s Cancer Registry. She enjoys advancing New Zealand cancer research through conducting statistical analysis for clinician-led studies and supervising summer studentship projects. Kirsten strongly believes in the importance of having ready access to high-quality data to improve the outcomes for all young cancer patients and their families.

Alex Ritai


The Project Coordinator is responsible for providing support and guidance to the planning, implementing and maintaining of a number of network projects and initiatives.

Alex joined the Network as a Project Coordinator and supports the administration, communications, Consumer Advisory Group, social media, website and design work for the Network. She comes with a background of Marketing and Human Resource Management. She is a creative in design, videography, photography, content creation and communications. Alex is passionate about using creative content to engage and support young people with cancer and Health Professionals in AYA Cancer Care.

Tristan Pettit

The Standards of Care Chair is responsible for providing the clinical leadership to the development of the AYA Standards of Care.

Tristan is a paediatric oncologist from Christchurch. His interest in AYA oncology grew from witnessing first-hand the barriers in care that exist for this patient group. Tristan is a member of the AYA oncology team at Christchurch Hospital and worked with the Sydney Youth Cancer Service during his fellowship training. He played a critical role in the leadership of the Standards of Care Working Group, ensuring relevant, representative and measurable Standards of Care were developed for AYA oncology patients in New Zealand.

Houston Murray


Kia ora

Heidi Watson

The Clinical Leader is responsible for providing clinical leadership and national oversight of the network .

Heidi is a passionate and experienced health professional with a strong clinical, education and leadership background. Her enthusiasm for, and commitment to youth health has focused on improving the outcomes of youth with cancer and chronic health conditions. Previously, Heidi held the position of AYA Cancer Nurse Specialist for Auckland District Health Board. Alongside her AYA clinical leadership role she holds a youth health academic position at the University of Auckland.