Sweating it out for those afflicted by illness

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

More Māori need to become blood and organ donors. That's the call from National MP, Alfred Ngaro who helped fundraise over $1m alongside firefighters and volunteers for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer foundation at the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challange.

These firefighters are sweating it out for those afflicted by illness.

A firefighter with over 30 years under the belt, Morehu Wilson (Ngāti Pāoa), says, “That's the main reason of us firefighters of Aotearoa have come together, to support those suffering from blood cancer.”

14 years in the running, the event started by firefighter Tony Scott and partner Heather has grown from 200 participants in its initial year to 950 this year. At 54 years of age, Morehu Wilson says he's still in his prime.

"People are telling me I'm an old man, but on the inside, I feel like a young man,” says Wilson.

It’s not just firefighters getting behind the initiative, MP Alfred Ngaro wanted to raise awareness and encourage Māori and PI people to become blood donors.

“I was working with Pio (Terei) today and his son who's unfortunately passed away but one of the things he found was that there wasn't enough Māori and Pasifik on the bone marrow donor registry... trying to get more of our guys Māori and Polynesian to go on the register and to be donors and blood donors and now the register is up and that's important,” says Ngaro.

Maaka McKinney has reached the end of his second campaign focusing on the health of emergency workers.

“So as first responders we're continuously exposed to a lot of traumatic type scenes you know we do a lot to ensure that our communities safe and protect them but we forget to think about ourselves.”

Elaborating further on the pressures of the job, he says, “Once you've been to one scene after another after another scene, it starts to stack up on you so the aim this year is to get our first responders to get out and get professional support.”

Maaka McKinney is now looking at how to bring peer support dogs in as a mental health support measure for first respondents.