Our vision is to provide a wrap around support service for young people age 12 -24 years and their family living with cancer in Hawke's Bay.


Our Mission is to support young people age 12-24 years and their family living with cancer in Hawke’s Bay. We work with a young person as well as their family, by walking alongside them and providing individualised support, from the time of diagnosis, through the treatment phase, celebrating return to full health, palliative care and providing grief support at the passing of a family member.

The meaning behind our name

Our name, The Acorn Project came from our belief that our members, like small acorns will grow into mighty oak trees, that flourish and stand resilient in the face of adversity. We chose not to use the word “cancer” or anything alluding to cancer in the name of the organisation so we can maintain our members’ confidentiality, and this is something our members have really appreciated.

What we do

At The Acorn Project Hawke's Bay we strive to do everything we can to support, guide, grow, and empower young people and their family who have cancer in Hawke's Bay. Regardless of what stage they are at, we provide young people in Hawke's Bay with the chance to make informed choices around their decisions, and to live their lives with a sense of being valued, visible and heard. 

Why our service began

The young people living with cancer in Hawke’s Bay have traditionally been supported through CanTeen.  However, CanTeen closed the local Hawke’s Bay branch in December 2018, along with many other provincial branches around the country.

This has resulted in there being no Hawke's Bay based support for members. CanTeen NZ has changed their focus to offer online peer support through a chat room and an 0800 number where members would be supported by staff in Australia and online counsellors.

These changes have had a big impact on membership. Many families have highlighted that online support is not appropriate as they need to build a relationship with someone before they can open up and share what is happening for them. They were upset that they won’t have face to face contact and that the people they are to be talking to would not even be in New Zealand.

One palliative member said:
“So, if there’s no local Hawke's Bay branch and no you what happens when I’m in hospital? So when I’m in hospital or I’m really sick or dying what do I do? Do I just ring a 0800 number so someone in Australia can talk to me…? I don’t think so. That’s not what we need, we need a person, we need a you.” - Miss T

Meeting our community's need

The Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay was set up in January 2019 to meet this urgent need in the community and offer local personalised one on one support for young people living with Cancer in Hawke's Bay. 

Founder of The Acorn Project, Kerrie Waby, was the branch coordinator and a youth support worker at CanTeen in Hawke’s Bay for six years. Her role included providing one on one support to young people, growing membership, fundraising, administration of accounts and everyday activity as well as being the local community liaison. When CanTeen closed its doors in December, Kerrie could clearly see the huge gaping hole it was going to leave in the community and decided to do something so that young people with cancer have the support they need in their community.

The service The Acorn Project provides is not a duplicate of what CanTeen once provided.  Using her 23 years of experience, Kerrie has developed the service to provide more support for the parents / carers of members too. There has been a significant need for this area of support for some time and we can now address this. There is also an opportunity to work with the members and family separately and in times of need they can come together to build stronger communication, share their experiences and plan for the future, however that may look. 


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