Key election asks from the Cancer Society of New Zealand

Cancer in Aotearoa: An overview

Every day, 71 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer and each year, around 9,500 die from it. Māori are twice as likely to die from cancer than non-Māori, making cancer an issue of equity. Aotearoa is also slipping behind other countries like Australia in efforts to address cancer care and improve outcomes in our communities.

Who are we?

The Cancer Society is Aotearoa’s largest cancer charity and one of Aotearoa’s most trusted organisations. We work at the intersection of cancer research, care and prevention in offices from Whangārei to Invercargill and we offer community-informed and evidence-based insights.

A positive way forward

The good news is that there are steps the Government can take to address key cancer issues right now. Many of these asks don’t require vast overhauls of systems or major reviews; the infrastructure to deliver them is already in place. They require commitment, acceleration and investment. These recommendations will save lives.

In its first term, we want the Government to:

1. Fully implement the key measures of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Act 2022, including monitoring and enforcement.

2. Reform our alcohol laws to address alcohol-related harm.

3. Develop a Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Action Plan by mid-2024, with dedicated funding of $2 million per annum to support its implementation.

4. Help eliminate cervical cancer. By the end of 2024:
• Vaccinate all those who have missed their Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations, prioritising tamariki who have not received their first dose, and
• Fund free cervical screening for all people with a cervix aged 25-69.

5. Fully implement bowel screening from 50 years for Māori and Pasifika people by end of 2024.

6. Extend the current breast screening upper age from 69 to 74 by the end of 2024.

7. Develop a national lung screening programme, based on the findings of lung screening research Te Oranga Pūkahukahu.

8. Update and implement a fully funded National Travel Assistance Scheme that is straightforward, fair and fit-for-purpose by December 2024.

9. Ensure Pharmac assesses and funds medicines in a timely way for people who can’t afford to wait, by:
• Setting fixed timelines for assessing new drugs, including a fast- track pathway for
medicines that save or prolong lives,
• Providing more funding certainty by right-sizing the Pharmac budget; and
• Directing Pharmac to publish analysis (including cost-effectiveness) of new medicines.

10. Impose a complete legislative ban on the use of genomic information by insurance companies.

11. Extend free and consistent treatment services for people with cancer-related lymphoedema to all Te Whatu Ora regions.

12. Ensure appropriate support is available for whānau Māori with cancer, through $1 million funding to expand the Kia ora – E te iwi programme, helping whānau Māori live well after a diagnosis.

If you would like to see our full Manifesto, visit To share your thoughts on addressing cancer or to support our election asks, please do get in touch. You are welcome to email:

Dr Rachael Hart
Chief Executive/Tumu Whakarae

Hannah Booth
Policy and Advocacy Manager/Pou Tangata

Last updated: September 15, 2023