The Cancer Society organisation was formed in 1929 when the New Zealand Branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign opened in Wellington.

The Cancer Society organisation was formed in 1929 when the New Zealand Branch of the British Empire Cancer Campaign opened in Wellington with the ‘conquest of cancer' as its mission.

The plan was to have the headquarters in Wellington and establish regional divisions, where practicable and desirable, to carry out the aims of the Society to: 

  • provide consultation clinics for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer
  • begin and maintain research into the causes of cancer in New Zealand 

By 1963 there were six regional divisions and the name of the society was changed to ‘Cancer Society of New Zealand Incorporated'. The objective of the organisation became ‘to minimise the impact of cancer'. 

In 1977 the National Council appointed a part time administrator, followed by the appointment of Mr Terry A. Ward, as Executive Director. An office was established in Wellington in 1981. National Education programmes, mainly in the SunSmart area, commenced in 1980 with a ‘smart cookies don't burn campaign'. 

The first fundraising campaign ‘Cancer Alert' was held in 1981 and raised $2.5 Million for general and research purposes. 

In 1996 national office came into being as we know it today, funded by levies from the six divisions. The Cancer Society of New Zealand is currently the leading non-government organisation dedicated to reducing the incidence and impact of cancer and ensuring cancer care for everyone in New Zealand. It is an independent charity. 

The Society continues to have a National Office in Wellington, six autonomous regional divisions, and centres within the divisions. The focus is on locally-funded provision of support services, health promotion and information appropriate to the people in each area. The Society is a pro-active advocate for cancer patients in New Zealand, providing a voice on all kinds of issues including, screening, detection and treatment. 

We provide:

Support Services

A range of support services for people with cancer and their families/whānau and caregivers. 

Find out how we can support you
Mel one of our cancer support nurses Mel one of our cancer support nurses

Advice on healthy living

A range of programmes and activities aimed at reducing the incidence of cancer by advocating for public health policy, creating supportive environments, strengthening community action, developing personal skills and reorienting health services. 

Find out more about healthy living

Information services

A range of booklets, leaflets, tapes, information sheets, videos, DVDs and books, in addition to an on-line directory of cancer information providers and their resources is available. 

Find out more about cancer information
Supportive Care nurse talking to a client Supportive Care nurse talking to a client

Research funding

The society provides financial support for scientific and social and behavioural research into the prevention, causes and treatment of cancer. 

Find out more about research funding


Donations, bequests, and fund raising events such as Daffodil Day and Relay For Life, provide funding for the work we do.

Find out more about how you can fundraise
Relay For Life Banner Relay For Life Banner


The invaluable time and support given by our volunteers enables the society to provide its wide range of services and activities. 

Find out more about volunteering
Cancer Society Volunteer Driver Cancer Society Volunteer Driver
Last updated: August 6, 2021