Our Board


The Board of Touch NZ in its role of governance of the sport, has been fortunate to secure the services of so many dedicated and skilled people with backgrounds and experience that encompass a wide range of areas including, corporate management, business, law, marketing, finance and sporting administration.​​​​​​​


Stephen Upton

Stephen returned to NZ in late 2015 after 10 years overseas mainly in Switzerland and also completing an MBA at the University of Cambridge in England. After playing socially in Zurich and on the European touch club tournament circuit, he started Switzerland's first ever touch module in 2010. He was National President of the Swiss Touch Association in 2012 and 2013, and involved with the formation of the European Touch Federation. Stephen played internationally for Switzerland at the 2011 World Cup in Edinburgh, and at the 2010 and 2012 European Championships. 

Stephen is also a qualified management accountant and is co-founder of Kernel Wealth, an online fund manager. He lives on Waiheke Island with his wife and 2 children and manages the Waiheke Touch module.


Ben Douglas

Ben Douglas is a Chartered Accountant with over 15 years’ experience in finance and accounting. Originally from Te Anau, Southland, Ben attended Otago University where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce. Ben is a Director of Johnston Associates South Chartered Accountants, employing 30+ staff in Nelson and Marlborough.He is also a co-owner of the Sprig & Fern Tahuna Tavern located conveniently next to the Tahuna playing fields home of the Tahuna touch module.

Ben has played competitive rugby in Southland, Otago & Tasman and has always enjoyed playing social touch rugby in the summer months.


John Watson

After 30 years in the Stock & Station Business John spent the balance of his working life in the Sporting industry.  A strong background in rugby administration, including Club and Sub Union Chairmanships, led to him forming a Touch Module at his Rangiora Rugby Club.

From there John was appointed as Provincial Touch Manager for Canterbury in 1997.  In 2001 he accepted a volunteer position as Tour Manager for Touch NZ.  Shortly after this he was seconded to Touch NZ to progress the sport throughout the South Island as well as be responsible for all the NZ Senior Touch Teams.  He managed 2 World Cup Campaigns (Japan and South Africa) as well as 2 Trans Tasman Series, the All Nations Tournament in Christchurch and a development Tour to Queensland.

After completing his contract with Touch NZ he went back to Touch Canterbury for a brief period to facilitate the repayment of a substantial debt that had been incurred.

John is a Life member of Touch Canterbury where he is still a Board Member and the President.

He was elected President of Touch NZ in 2009, a position he held until 2018.

Married to Carole for 57 years they have 2 married children and 5 grandchildren.


Leanne Walker

Leanne has a long history with Touch playing at 4 World Cup tournaments with the NZ Open Women’s side, Auckland, 1991, Hawaii, 1995, Sydney 1999, Kumagaya, 2003. A stalwart if the Waikato Open Women’s side she played 21 consecutive Nationals in the Open Women’s grade before eventually turning her hand to coaching a variety of teams at various levels.

Also a Double Olympian Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 in the sport of basketball, Leanne has been involved in High Performance Sport in both playing and coaching roles for a number of years, coaching a range of grades through to the Senior Women’s 3x3 National Women’s team, Gold medallists in the 2018, Asia cup.

Leanne and her husband Eliu (also a Waikato Touch rep) have 3 daughters who have at various times represented their province and country in basketball and touch. Leanne is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the Touch community.

She is currently a teacher and Lead Dean at St Peters Cambridge, as well as part of the Olympic Women in Sport Leadership Academy.


​​​​​​​Kirsty Thompson

Kirsty is an associate with Hamish Fletcher Lawyers in Nelson since 2018 in their Property Commercial team. She is a graduate from the University of Otago. 

Kirsty has an ambition to specialise in sports law. She is a successful sportswoman in her own right, having achieved in a variety of different sports including international rowing achievements and national and regional success in basketball, netball and rugby sevens. Representing New Zealand on the world stage alongside being the Secretary for the Otago University Rowing Club and more recently the Jacks Netball Club.


​​​​​​​Karyne Ross

Born and raised, and still residing in West Auckland, Karyne has worked in sport for over 20 years, but involved for a lifetime. Netball was her main sport being involved with Te Atatu Netball Club where she is a Life Member, and has played basetball, touch and indoor netball. Karyne's career has been wide and varied, starting in Customs and Freight Forwarding, owning a Restaurant, to Marketing and PR, followed by a committed stint within a Professional Athlete Management Agency, then into community sport as General Manager of Netball Waitakere, and now into a Regional Sports Organisation as Community Netball Manager at Netball Northern Zone. During this time Karyne completed a Master of Business in Sport Leadership and Management with AUT, graduating with First Class Honours in March 2021.

Karyne's passion lies very much in the grass roots sports and participation space with a strongly held belief of the value involvement in sport adds to the social fabric of our communities. With Karyne's children now of young adult age she is in a position to give back to sport through volunteering in the Governance space. Karyne is delighted to become part of the Touch NZ team.


​​​​​​​Keri Bryan

Keri emigrated to NZ in 1993 as junior Doctor from the UK. She has spent her career in the NZ health sector, working initially as a GP, then completing further study to complete her consultancy in Psychiatry. Until recently she led the Southland Mental Health Services as the Clinical Director for 16 years. Keri has a particular interest in rural NZ and finding ways of building health, wellbeing and resilience in communities.

Keri is married to Mark. They have 3 children all of whom have played Touch at regional level; the elder 2 also playing in the National Secondary Schools competition. Keri has been involved in coaching at primary school level for Touch, along with volunteering and managing various other sports teams. A keen sportswoman herself, she participates in a variety of codes including multisports, most recently enjoying the Breca swim/run events.

Keri has completed the chartered assessment with the IOD and has governance experience across the agricultural, education and health sectors.