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Dr Deborah (Debbie) Suitafa Ryan-Nicholson


Dr Deborah (Debbie) Suitafa Ryan-Nicholson

Dr Debbie Suitafa Ryan-Nicholson is the principal of Pacific Perspectives, a policy and research consultancy specialising in Pacific health, which she founded in 2008.  A founding member of SouthSeas Healthcare, she served as a Board member, the establishment leader for the organisation, and Clinical Director for the General Practice Clinic. From 2001 to 2003, Debbie was the organisation’s first Chief Executive.  At SouthSeas Healthcare she managed the establishment of TaPasefika, the first Primary Health Organisation established in New Zealand. 

Dr Ryan has a long career in public service, attaining Ministerial appointment to numerous Boards, including the first Counties Manukau District Health Board, the NZ Lotteries Community Committee, and the Minister’s Education Guardians Group. She was Chief Advisor Pacific Health at the Ministry of Health from 2003 to 2008.  

Debbie’s current work interests combine her commitments to Pacific health workforce development, and strengthening the evidence base for improving Pacific health in Aoteroa New Zealand.  For the past seven years, she has co-led the successful Aniva Nursing Postgraduate Leadership Programme.  Her team at Pacific Perspectives are leading research and evaluation projects using Pacific cultural research methodologies to record the views and experiences of Pacific patients and families as an input to improving the health system. 

Dr Ryan was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for services to the Pacific community and health.  She is a recipient of the Prime Ministers Award for public management at Victoria University.  Her work was recognised by the Pasifika Medical Association with a Life Award in 2016.


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