Our mission is clear.
Unicorn Foundation New Zealand is dedicated to revolutionising the way that Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET’s) are diagnosed and managed in New Zealand.
Unicorn Foundation NZ is a registered charity aiming to provide support and information to patients, families and medical professionals involved in the treatment for Neuroendocrine Tumours/Cancer (NET Cancer). We are currently working towards bringing specialised treatment called PRRT to NZ. Currently our NET cancer patients have to self-fund and travel to Australia to receive it, (no government support) which personally costs each patient around $60,000. This is a huge amount of money and stress for someone facing cancer treatment.
Meet The Team
Jeremy Rees, Chairman
Jeremy is a journalist and editor, and currently Executive Editor for Radio New Zealand, based in Auckland. He was editor of the Weekend Herald and Head of Digital Content for NZME, heading up then herald.co.nz and other web initiatives between 2006 and 2015. He was chair the industry's reporter training body and is a member of the Media Freedom Committee, the Media-Judicial liaison committee and other media bodies.
Jeremy came to Unicorn through wanting to use his media skills to help raise awareness about NETs. A self-described part-time, back of the bunch cyclist, he loves watching cricket, reading novels and has just completed a degree in Chinese studies at Auckland University. Jeremy is married to Karen, an anaesthetist at Auckland City Hospital, and they have two daughters.
Dr Malcolm Legget, Board Member
Malcolm is a highly regarded cardiologist, an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, Chair of the Translational Medicine Trust and a NET cancer patient. He was diagnosed in 2011 and quickly received treatment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne which thankfully has stabilised his disease.
His determination and drive to help improve research and care for NET cancer patients is truly remarkable. He is totally committed to trying to improve access to state of the art diagnosis and treatment for New Zealanders with NETs. He is married with three children and a keen cyclist.
Siobhan Conroy, Founder and Board Member
Siobhan established Unicorn Foundation New Zealand in 2012. Utilising her background in marketing and business management she has grown it from an idea to the fully fledged organisation it is today. Siobhan brings a unique understanding of NET cancer as her father died from a genetic form of the disease, (MEN Type 1) over 30 years ago which she has also been diagnosed with.
Early on, Siobhan saw the massive need for support and advocacy for NET cancer patients in NZ and is determined to help improve NET cancer support, awareness and treatment options now and in the future. She lives in Auckland and juggles this busy role around her young family.
David Kinnear, Board Member
David Kinnear is the Director of one of New Zealand’s leading communications consultancies. He works across a wide and diverse range of blue chip companies at the moment including Xero, Tower Insurance and George Western Foods. He is also the CEO of a creative services studio called Bob’s Your Uncle that services the needs of companies including Fonterra and Tourism New Zealand.
He is married to Theresa, they have two kids and a personal connection to a hereditary form of cancer which is why they are keen to help make a difference in New Zealand.
Kris Gerken, Treasurer
Kris is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in senior financial management roles in a number of large, iconic New Zealand organisations, both in New Zealand and Asia. Her financial and business management skills are an absolute asset to our Unicorn board.
Kris, who is originally from the deep south, now lives in Auckland managing to volunteer many hours to Unicorn around her busy work-life and family.
Chris Holmes, Board Member
Chris comes to the Unicorn Board as a NET cancer patient. Diagnosed in 2011, he had radiation therapy and a liver resection before undergoing PRRT treatment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, in 2016/2017. The results have been very positive, so he is now in monitoring mode.
Chris is an Account Manager for a leading IT company and brings 30+ years of experience & wide-ranging skills that he hopes will benefit Unicorn. He lives in Wellington, is married to Kirsty and they have three sons. And despite his illness, he enjoys sports and particularly trail running, recently completing the Tarawera 50km Ultra marathon. As someone with a cancer diagnosis, his focus is simply on family, friends and ‘living life’.
Avril Hull, NET Information and Support Manager
Avril became our Information and Support Manager in 2015 and confesses that one of the ways she has learnt so much about NETs was through listening to people – patients, their relatives and
friends. “I always feel humbled when people share so openly their NET journey and I feel privileged to be in a position to meet people from around the country in this role.”
Avril also works part time as a Nurse Specialist in Neuroendocrine Tumours at Auckland Hospital and part time as a Research Nurse with the NETwork! Project Team who are doing genomic research on NETs at the University of Auckland. “I love my work because it is challenging and I am always learning
something new.” She is married with 2 children who keep her busy in her spare time.
Lesley Harrison, NET Information and Support Manager (South Island)
Lesley joined the Unicorn Foundation in late 2018 as the South Island support and information manager.
She is excited to have the opportunity to enhance the support available for South Islanders, their whanau/family and friends, who are living with this quirky cancer and values the opportunity to meet so many of you through this work.
Lesley developed an interest in NET’s when a close family member was diagnosed in 2013. She also works part-time at a private surgical hospital in Christchurch and through this work has noticed an increase in the number of people undergoing surgery for NET’s.
Lesley is married with 3 adult children, 3 gorgeous grandchildren and 2 dogs.
Why the Unicorn?
This cancer is different and we need to think outside the box to help.
Not only is the unicorn a memorable name and image but it is also a symbol of hope – hope for early diagnosis, hope for better outcomes, hope for a cure.
Join us to help create awareness of this quirky cancer.