Friends and whānau pay tribute to breast cancer drug advocate


Friends and family carry Wiki Mulholland’s coffin to the hearse during her funeral.

Whānau and friends were very important to Palmerston North’s wife and cancer lawyer Wiki Mulholland.

Mulholland has been an advocate for better access to cancer medicines since she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in May 2018. She died on Friday, aged 43.

Since her diagnosis, she and her husband Malcolm have lobbied the government to increase funding for cancer drugs such as Ibrance, and have been vocal advocates for people living with cancer.

She was said goodbye on Monday during a service at the Beauchamp funeral home, where friends and family paid tribute.

* Breast cancer advocate, Wiki Mulholland, passed away
*Life-prolonging breast cancer drug Ibrance will be fully funded from April
* Relief at long overdue cancer drug funding


Wiki Mulholland, who has stage four breast cancer, speaks to Stuff in 2018 about her struggle to get a life-saving drug funded. (First published on August 30, 2018)

Malcolm said his wife was extremely intelligent and had a big heart.

“While cancer took her life, it didn’t define her.”

She had many successes, including winning the manu kōrero high schools speech competition, representing the youth parliament and working on marae development in the central North Island.

But Malcolm said their three children were her world and she turned down jobs in Wellington to ensure the family had a stable environment in Palmerston North.

David Unwin / Things

Wiki Mulholland was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018.

Her decision to make her diagnosis public was about wanting to spend more time with her children.

She was a strong supporter of the children and encouraged them to live life to the fullest.

Mulholland’s daughter Molly Rose said she and her brothers were everything to their mother and that she gave them every opportunity by taking them to sports or dance.

She said her mother loved owls and shared traits with the bird in being wise, calm, and awake at crazy times of the night.

“On our behalf, thank you for being the best mother I could have wished for.”

Israel Tangaroa Birch was an old friend of Mulholland’s, but she called him her brother. He said Mulholland turned everyone she knew into brothers and sisters.

“As soon as you became friends, you were whānau.”

He said that Mulholland had a lot of mana in her life and that her friendship increased mana for people.

“The purpose of mana is to recognize that everyone is equal. If someone wasn’t feeling well, she would increase people’s mana.”


Wiki Mulholland’s husband Malcolm in a hug after the funeral.

Friend Janice Roxburgh-Gair, who appeared via video, said Mulholland was lively, talented and intelligent.

“It doesn’t matter who she worked with, she left them invigorated.”

She said people loved and respected Mulholland.

When Mulholland was diagnosed with cancer, she would have only 14 months to live, but she lived another three and a half years.

She and Malcolm began lobbying Pharmac to fund cancer drugs like Ibrance, which cost people $5,800 a month to use.

In 2018, de Mulhollands led a group of more than 100 women and supporters to parliament to submit a petition, signed by more than 30,000 people, asking Pharmac to fund treatments for advanced breast cancer such as Ibrance and Kadcyla.

Pharmac announced last year that it would fund Ibrance, giving people more time and bringing joy and comfort to Mulholland.

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