This guide is a starting point for talking to your tamariki (children) if you or someone they love has mate pukupuku (cancer), or other serious illness, that has come back, spread or is terminal.

It’ll help you understand how to talk sensitively and honestly about terminal illness with your tamariki, which can provide some much needed reassurance during this unsettling time. You might find it hard to read, especially because it deals with so many complex, emotional and personal issues. That’s ok. 

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In this guide you’ll find tips to help you talk openly about terminal illness with your taitamaiti (child) or tamariki through all stages of your journey. You can share this guide with anyone who talks with your tamariki, like whānau, a kura māhita (teacher), kura (school) counsellors and neighbours. This will ensure your tamariki hears a consistent message about terminal illness.


This isn’t intended to replace professional help and support when needed. If you feel you and your tamariki may need help from a professional, please reach out to Kenzie’s Gift.


This guide is a digital version - if you need a print ready file for sending to your printers, please contact us.


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Teen Diary


 Where to go for support


Talking to your tamariki about terminal illness can feel scary but please remember you’re not alone. There’s a lot of support out there to help you have these difficult conversations. They can also help you if you’re worried about how your tamariki are coping and their behaviour.





Health professionals who can help

If you’re worried about your child’s behaviour, reach out for help from healthcare professionals, including:

  • Your family doctor.
  • Your nurse at the treatment centre.
  • Psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists – talk to your doctor about whether your taitamaiti could benefit from these specialist services, which might be funded or need to be paid for privately.
  • Kenzie’s Gift – our services are free and are designed to improve the emotional well-being and good mental health of tamariki, mātātahi and families affected by mate pukupuku, serious illness or bereavement. Get in touch.

Other support organisations

There are a lot of support organisations for families experiencing mate pukupuku.

These include:


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