Your Community Trust

True Colours Children’s Health Trust is a Waikato-based health care organisation, funded entirely by community generosity. It exists for the sole purpose of supporting children and young people with complex serious illness, and their families.

Our all-encompassing approach to care combines counselling, nursing and education with a full recognition of the physical, emotional, social and spiritual contexts of health and wellbeing. We deliver support services and a continuum of care for the entire family unit, from the time of diagnosis through to cure, bereavement or on-going adjustment to living with a life-limiting illness.

We work in close partnership with the  child or young person with the health condition and his or her family, because our holistic model of care is built on a strong belief in open communication and collaboration. We listen, we respond and we aim to ‘help courage shine through’. Our goals are those of positively enhancing the quality of life for the child or young person with serious illness while delivering the tools to support them and their families every step of the way.

Our support is available to families and their  children or adolescents with serious illness throughout the greater Waikato region and we work closely with health professionals, schools and other community groups to promote further education and understanding of the many and complex challenges facing  children, young people and their families.

Our Mission

To support children with serious illness, their whanau and community during their time of need through counselling, the delivery of nursing care and education.

Our Values

Our History

True Colours was born of a vision. That all children or young people who live with serious complex health conditions get the nursing care and psychosocial support they require – and that the related needs of their siblings, parents and other members of the family unit are looked after too.

Nurse specialist Cynthia Ward founded the True Colours Children’s Health Trust in 2004. With a background in Hospice care and her postgraduate research into what was really important to children living with a life-threatening illness, be that cancer or any other serious health condition, she developed an integrated model of care that could embrace both child and family.

This all-encompassing care and support is what makes True Colours unique. The trust’s assistance is readily available to those in need, from the time of diagnosis through to cure, bereavement or on-going adjustment to living with a life-limiting illness. Our award-winning staff and organisation are dedicated to making a difference.

To date, over 1,600 families in the greater Waikato region have been helped by the free services that True Colours provides – and all of the costs have been, and continue to be, covered by the generosity of our communities, through sponsorships, donations, trust grants and fundraising events.


  • The trust is founded by palliative care nurse specialist Cynthia Ward
  • Iconic New Zealand musicians Neil and Tim Finn become patrons. The trust adopts the name True Colours from the 1980 album released by the Finn brothers’ band, Split Enz
  • True Colours receives the Trust Waikato Child and Family Award for New Frontiers and Innovative Service
  • Inaugural True Colours Long Lunch initiated by Annah Stretton. Hosted by the Volunteer Committee, Friends of True Colours, this fundraiser for the charity, held on Melbourne Cup Day, quickly becomes established as the major fundraising event in the charitable trust’s calendar. In 2010, the event raised $44,000; in 2012, $43,000
  • New Zealand fashion designer and philanthropist Annah Stretton gifts the use of a house on Joffre Street, Hamilton, providing the trust with its own facilities for counselling and creative therapies, as well as space for workshops, support group meetings and offices for staff
  • Commencement of an ongoing vehicle sponsor through Tracy Martin from Waikato Motor Group
  • CEO Cynthia Ward receives the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) special nationwide centennial award, the Flora Cameron Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice, presented at the NZNO Centennial Celebration in Wellington.
  • The Orangi Kaupapa Trust Award is given to Cynthia Ward in recognition of her service to others
  • Therapeutic space which was completed thanks to a $10,000 US donation from the Paul Newman’s Own Foundation 2012
  • True Colours Children’s Health Trust semi-finalists in Westpac Business Awards
  • More than 1,000 families throughout the greater Waikato region have utilised the free services that True Colours has provided since 2004
  • True Colours celebrates 10 years in operation
  • Cynthia Ward is a finalist in the Westpac Women of Influence Awards
  • Cynthia Ward is a finalist in the New Zealander of the Year Awards
Cynthia Ward is awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to nursing and children’s health.

Our Patrons

“I am proud and privileged to have been a patron of True Colours since its inception. I believe very strongly in the work that Cynthia Ward and the other wonderful members of staff have been doing in the community, counselling and caring for the wellbeing of families and in particular children facing serious illness and bereavement. I have had the chance to hear first-hand from the children and their families what huge comfort and support True Colours can offer through times of great stress and trauma. Cynthia and the team enjoy the full respect and support of children’s medical practitioners in the Waikato because they have a unique perspective. True Colours continues to be a proven and valuable presence in the community. Long may they run.” – Neil Finn

“Our family has a very strong bond to this day with Cynthia Ward as she cared for Mum when she was dying. Cynthia helped us all immensely through this very difficult time. She was able to tune in to each of us, and say and do exactly the right things. We all felt that Mum had the carer she deserved, having lived a good life herself.

Cynthia has a special sensitivity which makes her uniquely able to work with sick and dying children and their families. There can be nothing harder than watching your own child struggle with a serious disease. The families who turn to True Colours are putting themselves in the hands of someone who truly cares.” – Tim Finn

Our Board of Trustees  |  We Listen and We Respond

Right from its beginning, True Colours Children’s Health Trust has been incredibly fortunate in the calibre of its Board members. No Trust can operate successfully without wisdom, integrity and vision and our Trustees have demonstrated those qualities time and time again in their decision-making. All share the central goal of enhancing the lives of children with serious illness and their families in their time of need.


Wayne Panapa
QSM, Police Sergeant, National Maori Warden Project Trainer, based at Police National Headquarters, Wellington

Wayne has been a serving member of the NZ Police with 40 years’ service, he is of Tainui and Ngati Whatua tribal descent and is married with two adult children.
“Although the threads of the needle, maybe of multiplicity of colours the red, the white and the black, there is only but one eye of the needle that the different threads may pass through. Hold fast to the Lord, be united and hold fast to the Faith,” King Tawhiao.

Trust Board

Leean Bedwell

Sarah Rawcliffe

Sandra Braithwaite

Parent Representative
Paul Grant

Medical Representative
Dr Fraser Maxwell

Medical Representative
Dr Phil Weston

Past Trustees

Ngaire Coddington
Chris Cowley
Dr David Graham
Claire Grant
Dr Noel Manikkam
Wayne Panapa
Annah Stretton
Joanne Watson
Trish Wright
Louise Dobson
Jacqui Gage-Brown

Our People  |  Helping Courage Shine Through

Delivery of our unique model of care is made possible by the dedication and skill of our professional staff. The True Colours team  share the vision of ‘helping courage shine through’. Their knowledge and experience is made available to every one of our families.

Cynthia Ward
Cynthia Ward
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Stephen Parkinson
Stephen Parkinson
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Mary Orpin
Mary Orpin
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Kyra Lindsey
Kyra Lindsey
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Michelle Rae
Michelle Rae
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Shelley Walker
Shelley Walker
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Clare Barnett
Clare Barnett
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Ruth Kendall
Ruth Kendall
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With a little help from our Friends

The wonderfully energetic and enterprising Friends of True Colours continue to demonstrate their commitment to our vision of all-encompassing care. The annual Long Lunch is now the most prominent of the Friends’ fundraising events but their activities on behalf of children with serious illness and their families are wide-ranging, and crucial to our financial viability.

Interested in becoming a Friend of True Colours? Contact our office today on 07 839 4800.

Our Sponsors  |  A very special thank you

The Waikato community continues to provide True Colours with magnificent support, allowing us to maintain and deliver our help to those in need.

Principal Funding Partner


Supply Partner

Service Partner

Principal Vehicle Partner

Print Media Partner

Interested in becoming a sponsor of True Colours?
Call Michelle Rae on 07 839 4800 to find out more.