We have been supporting people with cancer and their whānau since 1929.

More about the Cancer Society Central Districts

Debra Elgar - Central Districts Division, Chief Executive

With an extensive background and career in the health sector and experience in management and consulting; Cancer Society Central Districts newly appointed Chief Executive Debra Elgar is well qualified for the role.

Her association with the Cancer Society isn’t new, having first become involved with the charity during her 20s when training as a nurse in Wellington; she recalls her nursing class being visited by a representative from Cancer Society Wellington, on a volunteer recruitment drive “It seemed a really good idea at the time, so I joined, and now, well quite a few years later, I’m still involved” she said.

She has spent time serving on the Wanganui Centre executive committee and has also held positions on the Central Districts Divisional executive.

Dr Gary Forgeson - Central Districts Division Committee President

Dr Garry Forgeson has been a consultant medical oncologist at the Regional Cancer Treatment Centre for 27 years.

He has been President of the Central Districts Division for 15 years and member of the CSNZ National Board for 13 years. Prior to that he was President of Manawatu Centre and has been a member of several cancer-related national committees including the Cancer Control Council of NZ. Currently he is a member of the National Cancer Treatment Advisory Group, and chair of the Medical Oncology Work Group.

He has been involved in and strongly influenced the development of the Cancer Society and cancer services in this region and nationally; and has taken a leading part in the introduction of the cancer control concept throughout New Zealand and in the production of a number of national publications and recommendations to improve cancer treatment.

Pamela Murphy - Gisborne Executive Committee President

Pamela was appointed to the position of Trustee in February 2014 and was additionally appointed to be a Gisborne Centre representative on the Central Districts Executive. Since that time Pamela been appointed onto the Central Districts sub-committee to overview/make scholarship allocations.

Pamela took up the role Chair of the Gisborne Centre Trust in July 2015. Pamela has had a long history of community involvement including time spent on the Gisborne District Council.

Other voluntary positions held in the district are:

  • St John Te Karaka – Chair
  • Matawai Community Health Committee – Chair

Monique Bastin - Taranaki Executive Committee President

Monique has been a Cancer Nurse Coordinator for the Taranaki District Health Board for the last eight years, and prior to this was a Palliative Care community nurse for Te Rangimarie Hospice in New Plymouth, so has been immersed in Cancer Care provision in the Taranaki Region for over 15 years.

In 2018, she completed her Masters of Nursing, specialising in Cancer Treatment, Prevention and the Psychosocial impact of a malignant diagnosis in long term survivorship.

She joined the Cancer Society New Zealand Taranaki Centre Executive Committee in 2016, and was elected Chairwoman in 2019.

She is passionate about improving outcomes and access to services in the region, and remains excited and optimistic about changings coming from a national, regional and local level.

Graeme Baker - Wanganui Executive Committee President

I have been involved with the Wanganui Centre of the Cancer Society for over 10 years now and assist them on the financial side of things being their Chair of Finance for a number of years now. I was voted in as President in 2014.

I have been involved with community organisations all of my working life and with Central Districts Division of the Cancer Society for a number of years.

I operate a small electrical contracting firm in Wanganui with my wife Marie who is also very active in the Wanganui Cancer Society Centre.

Janice Klinkhamer - Hawke's Bay Executive Committee President

Janice has a long history of volunteering, and working with NGOs.

Working as a leader with Girl Guides when living in the Solomon Islands as a young adult, this has continued as a lifelong passion.

Many of her public speaking and organisational skills have been gained through the different positions held over the years.

Prior to retirement, Janice held the position of Arthritis Educator for Hawke's Bay for 14 years. During this time she was also a National trainer for the Stanford programme 'Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions'.

An interest in China saw an involvement for many years in the Hawke’s Bay branch of NZ China Friendship Society, travelling twice to China with that organisation.

On being asked to join the Hawke’s Bay Cancer Society executive six years ago, Janice then went on to be elected as representative to the Central Districts Divison Executive. This gave a wider viewpoint of the organisation, and has led to her election as Vice Chair for Hawke’s Bay, and then Chairman in December 2019.

John Waldon PhD (Massey), MPH (Otago) - Manawatu Executive Committee President

John has been a member of the Manawatu Executive Committee of the Cancer Society since 1999, since then he was invited to serve as a member of Cancer Control NZ (five years) and was a member of the Cancer Society’s Scientific and National Health Promotion Committees.

John was awarded a life membership in 2008. John also has an interest in children’s rights and assisted the preparation of three NGO reports on the status of New Zealand children to the United Nations Committee for The Rights of the Child. John was invited to attend the 2003 session of the United Nations Committee for The Rights of the Child as an observer, and 2010 and 2016 sessions to co-present both NGO reports.

John and Fiona moved to Palmerston North in 1994 where Fiona practices as a Physiotherapist and John undertakes contact research and is a practicing Restorative Justice Facilitator.

1929: The “Cancer Society” organisation was formed when the New Zealand Branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign opened in Wellington with the ‘conquest of cancer' as its mission, The Taranaki Centre was then known as the Wellington – Taranaki – Hawkes Bay Division.

1935 - 1937: Taranaki Centre began, mainly for the purpose of obtaining Radium and a Radiotherapy Department for Taranaki.  Taranaki Centre was incorporated under the Incorporated Societies Act 1908 on 27th October 1937.

1951: Manawatu Centre was established with the provision of Radiotherapy Services in Palmerston North.  £2,000 was raised in its first year for Radium.

1958: First cobalt machine for the North Island was operational at Palmerston North Hospital, purchased from funds raised by the Manawatu Centre committee. £22,000 raised in just six weeks.  

1952 – 1958: Radiotherapy clinics established in outlying hospitals within the Central Districts territory.  Cobalt machine set up in Napier under the Hawkes Bay Centre.

1962-1963: Central Districts Division was established on the 4 September 1963.  Palmerston North would be the location for the divisional headquarters.

1964-1968: Central Districts Division focused on education and publicity with the emphasis on school groups. Distributed numerous pamphlets.  Mobile education unit was set up.  Sponsored a doctor for overseas training in Radiotherapy.

1967:  St Vincent de Paul Society established Ozanam house for out of town patients and their relatives who required treatment at Palmerston North Hospital.  House named after the founder of St Vincent de Paul Society, Frederick Ozanam.

1980s: The first cancer support group began in Hawera July 1981. Volunteers provided support to cancer patients, assisted family members nursing terminally ill patients at home and acted as a link between patients and various resources of the Society.

1989 - Manawatu Centre along with Wellington Division piloted the first Daffodil Day. This was so successful it was taken Nationwide 1990 and has become one of the mainstays in fundraising for the Cancer Society.

2001 - Manawatu brought the first Relay For Life to New Zealand. Since then it has grown in strength and success with many events happening each year in New Zealand.

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Last updated: October 5, 2021