6 5 2020

The Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust has recognised a significant and kind donation of $10,000 from “an angel” - the long-time friend and supporter of the trust, Tessa Johnson (pictured above), with help from her sister Angie.

Tessa, a nurse at Rotorua Hospital for nearly 30 years, died recently after succumbing in her battle with cancer.

Trust chairwoman Sara Davies said she and her fellow trustees held a regular monthly meeting using the Zoom facility.

“After expressing our regret that most of our people to people activities are on hold, we went on to discuss the impact of COVID 19 on our main fundraiser the Pink Walk this year, and who knows the impact on activities for months to come.

“A lot of charities, including us, are suffering under Covid-19 restrictions.”

She said Tessa’s donation would “significantly reduce our stress levels, and it is like an angel has realised this in our time of need.”

“Tessa you have sprinkled some fairy dust on us, we are truly blessed. Your donation really will make a difference, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

She said another trustee, Beth Lang, knew Tessa during her nursing career.

“She told us that ‘Tessa has always lived by the motto of helping others, with a cheery smile and was always wonderful with children who came in for Day surgery, she tried to make them and their parents at ease’.”

The donation would help the trust manage the impact on Covid-19 for this year.  All funds raised in Rotorua stay here to help with the local community – “this year every dollar will count”.


Rotorua Hospital sadness 

Meanwhile, the Lakes District Health Board expressed great sadness in marking the passing of staff nurse Tessa Johnson.  Tessa had worked for Lakes DHB for nearly 30 years, a DHB statement said. 

Despite treatment, her breast cancer returned last year, and she took leave late in 2019.  Tessa resigned from the organisation early this year when she became too unwell to return to nursing duties.

Tessa was recognised for 30 years of service at a special lunch at the DHB in February.  Marking 30 years of service was important to her, which is why the special lunch was organised on the anniversary of her 30th year of employment with the DHB, with friends and colleagues invited.

In 2018, Tessa was recognised for outstanding contribution to nursing professional development.  The award recognised Tessa’s significant contribution to the professional development of colleagues and others, marking her efforts to assist others in their learning.

Tessa was an expert nurse on the Lakes PDRP Programme and as a PDRP assessor marked a significant number of portfolios from across the organisation.  She was part of many projects and document changes across the organisation over the years.

Receiving the award saw Tessa honoured for her passion in nursing and cared for her patients, her support of others and her willingness to help others.


Woman's Weekly challenge

In August 2018 Tessa also accepted the challenge of appearing in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly to tell her story to help boost support for people living with breast cancer and their support agencies.

Tessa died mid-evening on 2 May at her home, surrounded by close friends who had been nursing her.  Her passing was very peaceful.

A memorial service for Tessa will be held once New Zealand reaches alert level 1.

For more information on the Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust, go to:


To read the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly article, go to:



Brave Tess leaves legacy to Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust

Tessa Johnson - an angel 's legacy for the Rotorua Breast Cancer Trust;  right, Tessa's story featured in the Women's Weekly (cover pic courtesy of Woman's Weekly).

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