NZ Air Force’s flying Kiwi turns pink for breast cancer awareness - News & Updates • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

NZ Air Force’s flying Kiwi turns pink for breast cancer awareness

A Royal New Zealand Air Force aviator has come up with a never-been-done-before way to raise breast cancer awareness.

Aircraftman Yolandi Cook, a logistics specialist based in Woodbourne, Blenheim, 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 her 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.

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 life-saving work in education, research, advocacy and patient support.

Although Yolandi has not had breast cancer, 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 29-year-old mother-of-two says this is what has motivated her to come up with a unique way to spread breast cancer awareness to her Air Force colleagues and the wider 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,” Yolandi says.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Kiwi women, with around 3,500 women being diagnosed every year – that’s nine women a day.

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

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, says she can’t wait to see the 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.

“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.”

Yolandi 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 OEs,” Yolandi adds.

The patches are available for the public to buy for $15 via, but are limited in numbers.

It’s not too late for people to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast. Registrations close on 31 May and people can host anytime until 30 June. For more information and to sign up to host a Pink Ribbon Breakfast, visit