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Our Story

Creating a brighter future for young Kiwis affected by serious illness or grief within the whānau.

Our Why

Kenzie’s Gift is committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of tamariki / children and mātātahi / young people affected by serious illness (including cancer) and grief within the whānau.

Through the loss of Nic Russell’s 3-year-old daughter Kenzie in 2005 came the hope for families that is Kenzie’s Gift. We exist to help families during some of life’s toughest times.

Kenzie’s Gift’s mission is to create a brighter future for young Kiwis affected by serious illness or grief by supporting good mental health and ensuring no young Kiwi faces serious illness or grief alone.

Serious illness and grief are some of the most difficult and challenging life events whānau will ever experience. Tamariki / children and mātātahi / young people are often left to handle it alone because mātua / parents and caregivers and extended whānau members are struggling to cope.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can create social, behavioural and academic problems that can last into adulthood.

But timely, evidence-based and age-appropriate mental health services, like what we do, can help to ease these problems and support, restore and maintain good mental health both now and in the future.

Kenzie's Story

The story behind Kenzie's Gift is not a story of miracles. It’s one of gutsy determination, tenacity and love of an amazing little girl, Mackenzie Eireann.

Kenzie simply loved life. A thrill-seeker from day one she relentlessly pursued fun and boisterous activities, yet her mischievous spirit and angelic looks ensured she was a favourite with everyone who met her.

As strong-willed and independent as Kenzie was, she couldn’t bear to be parted for long from her beloved māmā, Nic, or Conor, the older brother she adored. During those first happy years no one could have predicted what lay ahead for this whānau and how their lives would be torn apart in April 2005.

Read more about Kenzie
The Kenzie’s Gift Team
Nic Russell
CEO

Nic founded Kenzie's Gift in 2006. You’ll find her ensuring the smooth running of the charity, from forging partnerships to managing the team.


She has a degree in Psychology and a post-graduate degree in Communications Management and PR. Specialising in the health and social sector, Nic has extensive experience in campaign development, stakeholder management and championing social issues.


As a recipient of the New Zealander of the Year, local hero award, she is seen as a passionate social change agent who can turn visions into reality.

Dr Freyja Mann
Therapy & Triage Manager

A registered clinical psychologist, Dr. Mann specializes in child and adolescent mental health. She oversees the initial assessments and directs families to appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Heather Rankin
Grants and Communications Writer

Heather is a recent addition to the Kenzies Gift team.  She brings a background in not-for-profits, a flair for writing and a desire to help others to the grant writer role.  

With over ten years’ experience in grant writing, accounting and office support roles for small and medium sized charities, Heather is passionate about using her skills to raise funds for Kenzie's Gift.  “It’s a real privilege to work with this wonderful charity that offers care and support to children and families at very a difficult time in their lives.”

 

Molly Clarke
Support Kit Co-ordinator

Volunteering her time and energy, Molly manages the distribution of hard copy support kits. With a genuine care for families in need, she ensures these crucial resources get to where they need to go.

Jenny Zilmer
Writer

A writer and māmā to Nora and Lumi, Jenny researches and develops articles and resources to support the Kenzie’s Gift community. As a bereaved māmā herself, Jenny is passionate about finding ways to help whānau / families living with grief.

Nickey Schofield
Administration Manager

Organized and detail-oriented, Nickey has over a decade of experience in office management. Her efficiency ensures the smooth operation of Kenzie's Gift's daily activities.

Luka Didham
Digital Marketing Team

Luka focuses on social media outreach and campaign management. A digital native, he keeps Kenzie's Gift connected with its online community.

Fiona Nagy
Digital Marketing Team

An experienced marketer with a knack for strategy, branding and digital. Fiona drives fundraising campaigns and helps to increase Kenzie’s Gift's online presence.

Nic Russell
CEO

Nic founded Kenzie's Gift in 2006. You’ll find her ensuring the smooth running of the charity, from forging partnerships to managing the team.


She has a degree in Psychology and a post-graduate degree in Communications Management and PR. Specialising in the health and social sector, Nic has extensive experience in campaign development, stakeholder management and championing social issues.


As a recipient of the New Zealander of the Year, local hero award, she is seen as a passionate social change agent who can turn visions into reality.

Dr Freyja Mann
Therapy & Triage Manager

A registered clinical psychologist, Dr. Mann specializes in child and adolescent mental health. She oversees the initial assessments and directs families to appropriate therapeutic interventions.

Heather Rankin
Grants and Communications Writer

Heather is a recent addition to the Kenzies Gift team.  She brings a background in not-for-profits, a flair for writing and a desire to help others to the grant writer role.  

With over ten years’ experience in grant writing, accounting and office support roles for small and medium sized charities, Heather is passionate about using her skills to raise funds for Kenzie's Gift.  “It’s a real privilege to work with this wonderful charity that offers care and support to children and families at very a difficult time in their lives.”

 

Molly Clarke
Support Kit Co-ordinator

Volunteering her time and energy, Molly manages the distribution of hard copy support kits. With a genuine care for families in need, she ensures these crucial resources get to where they need to go.

Jenny Zilmer
Writer

A writer and māmā to Nora and Lumi, Jenny researches and develops articles and resources to support the Kenzie’s Gift community. As a bereaved māmā herself, Jenny is passionate about finding ways to help whānau / families living with grief.

Nickey Schofield
Administration Manager

Organized and detail-oriented, Nickey has over a decade of experience in office management. Her efficiency ensures the smooth operation of Kenzie's Gift's daily activities.

Luka Didham
Digital Marketing Team

Luka focuses on social media outreach and campaign management. A digital native, he keeps Kenzie's Gift connected with its online community.

Fiona Nagy
Digital Marketing Team

An experienced marketer with a knack for strategy, branding and digital. Fiona drives fundraising campaigns and helps to increase Kenzie’s Gift's online presence.

Our therapists

Our registered mental health professionals, including Clinical Psychologists and Psychotherapists, work across Aotearoa New Zealand and are all well experienced working with tamariki / children and mātātahi / young people and their whānau.

Our Board

Our passionate Board of Trustees has a breadth of knowledge across accounting, finance, strategy, legal and health and they're all committed to helping us ensure no young Kiwi faces serious illness or grief alone.

Our ambassador

When Nigel Latta was asked to become our ambassador, he agreed without hesitation. As a Clinical Psychologist, he works tirelessly with tamariki / children and mātātahi / young people making him our ideal ambassador.

Our supporters

As a charity, we don’t receive any government funding and rely on the amazing generosity of a range of supporters to keep our essential mental health services running. 

Our Achievements

Kenzie’s Gift’s mental health services are life changing. Here are some of the impacts we’ve had since 2019.

5776

Support Kits

4764

Therapy Sessions

6379

Families Helped

Our Sponsors

As a charity, we don’t receive any government funding and rely on the amazing generosity of our supporters to keep our essential mental health services running.

Lindsay Foundation
Potter Masonic Trust
The Lion Foundation
ANZ
JB Hi-Fi
Dragon Community Trust
BlueSky Community Trust
Hugo
Foundation North
Pub Charity
Linda Simmons (Bayleys Residential Sales)
JM Thompson Charitable Trust
Perpetual Guardian
Bupa Foundation
Lotto
Milestone Foundation
William Harvey Trust (Perpetual Guardian)
ILT Foundation
Hawke's Bay Foundation
TECT
Public Trust
Rata Foundation
Royston Health Trust
Four Winds Foundation
John Ilott Charitable Trust
COGS
Christchurch Casino
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Lister Presbyterian Health Trust
Louise and Patrick Emmett Murphy Foundation (Public Trust)
Ernest Hyam Davis & The Ted and Mollie Carr Endowment
T G Macarthy Trust (Public Trust)
J A Redwood Charitable Trust (Perpetual Guardian)
Lindsay Foundation
Potter Masonic Trust
The Lion Foundation
ANZ
JB Hi-Fi
Dragon Community Trust
BlueSky Community Trust
Hugo
Foundation North
Pub Charity
Linda Simmons (Bayleys Residential Sales)
JM Thompson Charitable Trust
Perpetual Guardian
Bupa Foundation
Lotto
Milestone Foundation
William Harvey Trust (Perpetual Guardian)
ILT Foundation
Hawke's Bay Foundation
TECT
Public Trust
Rata Foundation
Royston Health Trust
Four Winds Foundation
John Ilott Charitable Trust
COGS
Christchurch Casino
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Lister Presbyterian Health Trust
Louise and Patrick Emmett Murphy Foundation (Public Trust)
Ernest Hyam Davis & The Ted and Mollie Carr Endowment
T G Macarthy Trust (Public Trust)
J A Redwood Charitable Trust (Perpetual Guardian)