About Us

About Us

The Nurture Foundation for Reproductive Research is committed to helping New Zealanders have families.  Established in 1992, Nurture is a charity which supports research into reproductive health. Every year we distribute funding to research groups across New Zealand who are dedicated to finding causes, preventions and treatments for reproductive disorders such as:

  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Reproductive cancers
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Contraception and sexual health

But to help others, we need your help. 

By making a donation you’ll help give hundreds of New Zealanders a chance to do something most of us take for granted:  the chance to nurture a child of their own. 


Get involved

Supporting an important social cause such as the Nurture Foundation can be extremely rewarding for your business.  In return, we can offer you the opportunity to enhance your brand by being associated with the caring, compassionate and ‘nurturing’ values that are inherent in our brand.

Ways in which your company could get involved:

  • Cause related marketing programmes
  • Nominating Nurture as the beneficiary of corporate fundraising events
  • Sponsoring a research project or research fellowship
  • Payroll programmes that enable staff to make regular contributions that are then matched by the company
  • Donations of goods or services suitable for charity auction
  • Pro-bono professional expertise such as legal and financial services

To discuss how your company could support the Nurture Foundation and make a real difference to the future of New Zealand families, please email us at nurture@auckland.ac.nz

Nurture Trustees


FOUNDER: Sir Graham Liggins: - 24 June 1926 - 24 August 2010

CBE, KB, MBChB (Otago), PhD, FRCS(Edin.), FRACS, FRCOG, FRNZCOG, FRS, FRSNZ, Professor Emeritus.

Sir Graham Liggins is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most internationally famous medical scientists.  In the Medical School’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology since 1960, he pioneered the treatment of babies while still in the womb.

Sir Graham is best known for his research into the mechanisms which initiate labour.  He solved the perplexing question as to how the time of birth was determined.  Sir Graham showed that it was the fetus – and not the mother as generally believed – who controlled birth. 

Sadly Sir Graham died on August 24 2010, but he will be remembered for his research into preventing lung disease in premature babies.  Millions of preterm babies around the world are alive today as a direct result of his work.  Sir Graham founded Nurture in 1992; the Trustees are proud of this association and will continue to seek answers to reproductive problems through clinical and laboratory-based research. 

To read Sir Graham Liggins' Obituary in The Economist click here

Cindy Farquhar

Cindy Farquhar


Cindy is the Postgraduate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland.  Her research interests include infertility, menstrual disorders, and the long term effects of hysterectomy.  Cindy is the co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group, which was established in 1996.  She is the past Chairman of the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee and past Deputy Chairman of the New Zealand Guidelines Group. She is currently the co-chair of the Cochrane Steering Group of the Cochrane Collaboration. www.cochrane.org

Cindy’s clinical work takes place at Fertility Plus, the reproductive medicine unit of National Women’s Hospital.  With clinical interests in polycystic ovarian syndrome, pelvic pain, endometriosis and managing abnormal uterine bleeding, Cindy conducts three specialist clinics and has a weekly operating list.

Andrew Shelling

Andrew Shelling

BPhEd, BSc (Hons), PhD

Professor Andrew Shelling is Associate Dean (Research) at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, and also head of the Medical Genetics Research Group. His research is primarily interested in understanding the molecular changes that occur during the development of genetic disorders, focusing on breast and ovarian cancer, infertility and reproductive disorders. 

 Andrew began at Otago University with a degree in Physical Education, and BSc (Hons) and PhD in Biochemistry. He was awarded the Nuffield Medical Fellowship in 1992, and spent three years in Oxford, UK, studying the genetics of ovarian cancer, before being appointed to Auckland University as a Lecturer. Andrew has served as Deputy Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, President of the New Zealand branch of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia, Deputy-Chairperson of the Advisory Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and as Associate Editor for the Human Reproduction journal. He is currently Director of the Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours programme, on the Editorial Board for the Human Fertility and Clinical Genetics journals and is a Trustee for the Nurture Foundation for Reproductive Research. 


Mariette van Ryn

Mariette van Ryn


Mariette van Ryn is an independent director and consultant. She was previously a General Manager on Westpac's Executive for eight years and prior to this a partner for 17 years at national law firm, Simpson Grierson, where she was also a board member. 


Mariette has considerable governance experience having served on a number of boards throughout her career and is currently a director of Milford Asset Management Limited and a member of the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal.

Lesley McCowan

Lesley McCowan


Professor Lesley McCowan is Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at The University of Auckland, and she is also a sub-specialist in maternal- fetal medicine and works clinically at National Women’s Health, Auckland City Hospital.  Her academic appointments are at the Auckland School of Medicine at Grafton and South Auckland Clinical School at Middlemore Hospital.

Lesley leads several research projects that aim to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies.

She was the obstetrician on the “External Review of Maternity Care in the Counties Manukau District” in 2012. This report highlighted the huge contribution of obesity to adverse health outcomes for mothers and babies in Counties Manukau District. It also provided the stimulus  for the HUMBA (Healthy Mums and Babies) pilot study, which  commenced recruitment in 2015, in South Auckland. This intervention study being undertaken in obese pregnant women, will trial dietary education and probiotic capsules, to determine whether they  can reduce pregnancy weight gain , improve glucose metabolism and optimise infant birthweight.  If successful the HUMBA trial may be a first step towards breaking the intergenerational cycle of obesity.

Another major current research interest  is identification of modifiable risk factors for stillbirth in New Zealand.  She is the principal investigator on a multi-centre New Zealand study which has a particular focus on the role of maternal sleep practices on risk of stillbirth in late pregnancy. Recruitment to this study will be completed by early 2016. 

She is also the Auckland principal investigator on the international  international Screening for pregnancy endpoints (SCOPE) Study which aims to predict late pregnancy complications in early pregnancy.This study recruited 2065 Auckland women in their first pregnancy (between 2004 and 2009).  The SCOPE consortium has a state of the art biobank and clinical database which continues to be an outstanding  resource to answer new research questions as technology evolves. The children of SCOPE participants have been followed up to 6 years of age with the aim of identifying early life determinants of childhood obesity in this cohort. We have published 60 papers from this landmark study to date with 15 new studies initiated using the biobank and database in 2015.   

Cate Curtis

Cate Curtis

BA, BSocSc(HonsI), PhD

Cate is a senior lecturer in social psychology at the University of Waikato, with a particular interest in women’s wellbeing.  She also has an interest in research methods and is a co-author of ‘Social research: A practical introduction’ and a co-editor of ‘SAGE benchmarks in social research methods: Data generation’ (both published by Sage, London).

Cate sits on the executive committee of the consumer-focused charity FertilityNZ, and is a representative on the Northern Region Fertility Services advisory group. 

Nurture Ambassadors

Allyson Gofton

Allyson Gofton becomes an Ambassador for Nurture

Allyson has been the Nurture Ambassador since Mother's Day 2007.

Allyson's daughter Olive-Rose was conceived with the aid of fertility treatment and delivered by caesarean section four weeks early due to a condition known as placenta previa which can cause sudden haemorrhage, increasing the risk of stillbirth, premature birth or an undernourished baby.

Allyson also experienced a difficult pregnancy leading up to the premature birth of her son Jean-Luc when she was hospitalised with pre-eclampsia, a condition that can seriously compromise the health of both baby and mother.  Jean-Luc then spent 12 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Allyson's children are now active young people, happy at school and busy with sport and other interests.

As Nurture's Ambassador, Allyson has agreed to help raise awareness of the prevalence of reproductive problems in New Zealand, and to highlight the need for funding to support research into miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy complications and infertility.  "I am personally very fortunate to have had the benefit of expert care throughout two medically challenging pregnancies.  I have no doubt that my family has benefited from the research and learning that has gone before and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to help Nurture in its endeavours to find new ways to predict and prevent distressing reproductive problems" says Allyson.

We're grateful for Allyson's involvement , and believe that having such a well-known Ambassador with personal experience of reproductive problems will help to raise awareness of The Nurture Foundation and encourage more New Zealanders to support reproductive research by making a donation to Nurture.