The Cancer Society of New Zealand was formed in 1929 as the New Zealand Branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign. In 1963 it became The Cancer Society of New Zealand Incorporated, more commonly known as the Cancer Society.

During its early years the Society started clinics to give advice to people who thought they had cancer. It also set up research laboratories to investigate the use of radium and other substances to treat cancer. The Society also raised funds to help purchase radiotherapy equipment for hospitals.

It is a non-profit organisation that is funded mainly by donations, and has a network of staff and volunteers in 21 centres across the country.

What does it do?

The Cancer Society’s goal is to reduce the number of people who develop cancer and ensure the best possible quality of life for people with cancer. They do this via a range of services :


The Cancer Society is a major funder of cancer research in New Zealand. The aim of research is to determine the causes, prevention and effective methods of treating various types of cancer. Thanks to research, some cancers can be prevented and others can be cured if detected early.

Health Promotion

Health promotion helps people increase control over and improve their own health. Health promotion includes health education, for example, about the importance of physical activity. An example of a Cancer Society health promotion programme is the SunSmart campaign, run in partnership with the Health Sponsorship Council. The Society also lobbies government for policy and legislation to create healthy environments, e.g. the Smokefree Environments Act restricting smoking in public places.

Health Information

The Cancer Society offers information to health professionals, students and people with cancer and their families. Printed materials on specific cancers, treatments and diet are available. A toll-free telephone service staffed by experienced oncology nurses provides information, support and understanding to those with cancer, their families and friends.

Support Services

Cancer Society staff and volunteers provide support to people with cancer and their families. Services include driving, gardening, visiting, preparing meals and organising support groups. In some areas patients who live a long way from a hospital providing radiotherapy can stay free of charge or at a low cost in hostels supported by the Cancer Society (for example, Domain Lodge in Auckland).

They can also help by providing access to support groups, education and complementary therapies. Their patient information sheets are extensive, including Understanding Cancer and Living with Cancer . They provide a Breast Cancer Support Service, counselling for people touched by cancer, and can help you access special needs grants if required.

How is it funded?

The Cancer Society is a non-profit organisation which receives no direct financial support from Government. Funding comes mainly from donations and other fundraising activities, such as their annual Daffodil Day. Some people also gift money to the Society in the form of making bequests in their wills for when they die.

Daffodil Day in August each year is the Society’s main way of raising funds. Daffodil Day is a time of hope, support and remembrance. The funds generated from Daffodil Day are used to fund scientific research into the causes of and treatments for cancer, to provide support to people with cancer and their families, and to enable public education about cancer.

The Society has recently added a new fundraising event called the Relay for Life . This is an international event run in many countries around the world, and has developed into the world’s biggest fundraising event. Relay for Life is a fun, challenging way to raise money for cancer prevention and early detection activities as well as for patient services. It involves teams of 10 – 15 people walking or running around a track for 24 hours. Each team member is sponsored, and takes turns carrying the team baton around the track. This is an annual event which takes place in most cities throughout New Zealand.

How can I get their help?

You can get in contact with the Cancer Society in a variety of ways:

  • Visit the website and contact them by email.
  • Phone or visit your closest Division or Centre. They have a total of 21 Divisions or Centres spread across NZ . There should be a centre near where you live, or else you will find one located in the town / city where you are going for treatment. Follow this link for a full list of these centres across the country:
  • Phone the Cancer Information Helpline on 0800 800 426. This line is manned by experienced oncology (cancer) nurses and is available Monday to Friday 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The nurses can provide you with information, advice and support to help you cope through this difficult time.
  • Sign up for CancerChatNZ the Cancer Society chat room, facilitating information sharing and support between people touched by cancer. You will find the forum at:

How much does it cost?

Cancer Society support services are free. This is made possible by the marvellous network of volunteers they have helping across the country, as well as by the donations provided by everyday New Zealanders.

Of course, a donation would always be welcome, but this is not in any way expected.

Link to the Cancer Society website

This is an excellent website which is very easy to use. It has lots of helpful information and contacts about cancer. You can download detailed information about different types of cancer, available treatments, and how to reduce your risk of getting cancer through healthy living. Kiwi Families highly recommends this site.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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