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Monday 6 May 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, Local, National


Volunteer firefighter to tackle Sky Tower for friend battling cancer
Tahiti Isaaka (second left) is a dedicated member of the Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade. She is participating in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge in Aotearoa New Zealand for the second time. SUPPLIED/24050503

Dedicated Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade member Tahiti Isaaka is participating in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge 2024 in Aotearoa New Zealand this month to raise funds for blood cancer.

Isaaka says her commitment to this cause is motivated by compassion for her close friend, Tekao Herrmann, who is battling this debilitating disease.

The challenge, to be held on May 18th, will be Isaaka’s second attempt, following her participation last year.

“I’m doing this again because one of my really dear friends Tekao, and members of my own family and other friends have needed medical support and access to these funds because they have cancer,” says Isaaka.

“Tekao has always been one of my number one supporter, and this is my way of doing something for a good cause, for him and those who are fighting cancer.”

The Sky Tower challenge is an arduous physical competition that brings together firefighters from across Aotearoa to raise funds and awareness for blood cancer.

Firefighters are required to carry 25 kilograms of additional kit up 51 flights of stairs of 1103 individual steps of Auckland’s Sky Tower – one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres.

Isaaka has been committed to her training regime of paddling, cardio, and gym workouts, walking the hospital hill while wearing a breathing apparatus, and climbing the stadium steps.

“It has been tough but manageable,” she says.

“All the hard work I’ve put into my training will benefit me, and it’s fine for me because I’m passionate about it.

“If you have passion for something you will get there and it won’t be that hard really … I love it.”

According to the event organisers, every day, eight Kiwis are diagnosed with blood cancer or a related blood condition.

“It can affect anyone, at any age and at any time in life. The cancer journey is overwhelmingly difficult for patients and their families/whānau, but you can help make a difference now.”

The Puaikura firefighters have been fundraising for Isaaka’s trip and have been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the community.

For those who would like to support Isaaka’s challenge for blood cancer, contact the Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade via Facebook or visit the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge website. As of yesterday, she had managed to raise $1635. In total, the organisers have raised $1,163,441.

Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade said: “We are racing up the Sky Tower in full firefighting kit to raise vital funds and awareness for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC). Every day 8 children and adults in New Zealand are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. LBC is the national charity dedicated to supporting patients and their families, this support can last months or even years. LBC receives very little government funding, so please sponsor us and help us support this great cause. It’s simple, fast and totally secure and LBC will email you a tax-deductible receipt. Thank you for your amazing support!”

Isaaka departs Rarotonga on May 16. The Sky Tower Challenge will take place on May 18 in Auckland.

She would like to acknowledge the Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade, Tarina and Jason Moorfield, and Jack Waterfront for their encouragement and support.

Last year the Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade members who participated in the Sky Tower challenge raised $18,721.