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Kiwi patch goes pink

A Royal New Zealand Air Force aviator is raising money for breast cancer awareness by selling Pink Kiwi patches, modelled on the Defence Force’s generic military-issue patch.

24 May, 2024

Aircraftman Yolandi Cook, a logistics operator based at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, has created – and is selling – the first ever Pink Kiwi patch, with all profits being donated to Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

The Air Force is getting behind AC Cook’s initiative by allowing its personnel to wear the Pink Kiwi patch on their uniforms this week, to coincide with Pink Ribbon Breakfast Day on 23 May.

AC Cook, 29, is a mother of two. She has not had breast cancer, but says she’s witnessed loved ones go through the disease. She also had a scare recently, where she’d found a breast lump which thankfully turned out to be benign.

The scare motivated her to come up with a way to spread breast cancer awareness to her colleagues and the public.

“It was quite sobering at this age to think I might have breast cancer. As a mum, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to face the possibility of not seeing your kids grow up – and yet I know this an experience that is common for Kiwi women,” she says.

So far, nearly 2,000 Pink Kiwi patches have been sold, raising $15,000 for Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

AC Cook says the bulk of patches have been sold to New Zealand Defence Force personnel, with some members buying multiple patches to swap with their foreign counterparts while on deployment overseas.

“These patches can also be worn by the general public and could be popular on the kids’ schoolbags or with backpackers on their overseas trips,” she says. 

I’m proud to see the patches being worn and to help make a difference. I’m thankful to the Air Force community for encouraging me to support a cause that means a lot to me.

Aircraftman Yolandi Cook wearing the Kiwi Pink Patch.

Aircraftman Yolandi Cook wearing the Kiwi Pink Patch.

The Kiwi Pink Patch

The Kiwi Pink Patch

AC Yolandi Cook with some of her colleagues who have supported her Kiwi patch initiative.

AC Yolandi Cook with some of her colleagues who have supported her Kiwi patch initiative.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, says she looking forward to seeing photos of Air Force’s uniforms adorned with the Pink Kiwi patch.

“We love seeing imaginative ways to start important conversations about breast cancer awareness and we’re thrilled the Royal New Zealand Air Force has embraced the pink flying kiwi,” she says.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Kiwi women, with around 3,500 women being diagnosed every year.

“Our vision is to see zero deaths from breast cancer and as a charity that doesn’t receive any government funding, it’s only thanks to wonderful fundraisers like Yolandi that we can work towards this ambitious goal.”

She says Pink Ribbon Breakfast is Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s largest annual fundraiser, where tens of thousands of Kiwis host special events in their homes, workplaces and communities throughout the month of May.

The money raised goes towards the charity’s work in education, research, advocacy and patient support.

You can purchase a Pink Kiwi patch here.