Conference Awards

The PONZ conference recognises excellence at both ends of the professional service spectrum, honouring established members of the psychosocial workforce with the Outstanding Service Award, and presenting the Doug Sexton Award to the best first time presenter at a PONZ conference.

Outstanding Service Award


Assoc Prof Chris Atkinson, St George’s Cancer Care Centre, Christchurch
2016, Wellington

Chris Atkinson was involved in the earliest Psycho Oncology Interest Group (POIG) meetings, which evolved into PONZ. He has always been very passionate about the psychosocial needs of his patients and has worked hard to interest others in this area too.   He and Dr Chris Wynne gave funding to begin the Doug Sexton Award for best first time presenter at a PONZ conference.  He continues to support development of psychosocial-oncology and is a regular speaker at Cancer Society support groups, and has contributed to PONZ education sessions in Christchurch.  He is also very mindful of wellbeing of staff and is interested in developing support for staff who work in this sometimes very difficult area.

Assoc Prof David Perez, Southern DHB
2015, Invercargill

David Perez was another of the key players in POIG and the establishment of PONZ, and drafted the constitution that is the basis of that in use today. He was part of the committee who hosted the memorable conference in Dunedin in 2004. David has been an important figure in supporting psychological and social support services in cancer care as part of a broad approach to treatment and care. He was instrumental in lobbying for the counselling role to be developed at Dunedin Public Hospital, which was the first role based within a cancer centre at that time (1999).

Lorraine Sutherland, Canterbury DHB
2014, Palmerston North

Lorraine Sutherland has been providing psychosocial support for patients with cancer in Christchurch Hospital for over 20 years and, like Chris and David, has a longstanding association with PONZ. She played a leading role in establishing the Canterbury PONZ forum and has been on the organising committees for the 2011 and 2017 conferences.

Fiona Pearson, Wellington Cancer Society and Lizzy Kent, MidCentral DHB
2013, Auckland

Another stalward of  psychosocial oncology in New Zealand, Fiona Pearson was also involved in the earliest Psycho Oncology Interest Group meetings. Fiona was nominated for her leadership, her encouragement, her passion and her ability to reach out and inspire so many of those who work in the field of cancer care throughout New Zealand.

Along with her colleague Don Baken, Lizzy Kent was instrumental in establishing and developing the Massey University Cancer Psychology service in 2006. Lizzy was nominated for her ready participation in projects, as well as managing her own busy caseload, her commitment to helping her clients to make lasting improvements in their lives, and her efforts to empower her colleagues to help optimise the patient’s journey.


Doug Sexton Award

2016    Alannah Flockton
2015    Dr Simone Petrich
2014    Fiona Hewerdine
2013    Colleen Kendrick