THE late Meki Ta’ufo’ou didn’t know he was terminally ill when he posed for a New Zealand Firefighters Calendar to help raise money for children with cancer.
He died just a few months later aged 30.
Now his old colleagues from the fire service have joined forces with his partner Candace McNabb to do their bit for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.
They’ll be holding family friendly events at the Ponsonby Fire Station where Mr Ta’ufo’ou worked on Saturday and on November 9 to raise money and awareness.
The Firefighter’s Ride for Cancer from Auckland to Invercargill is also on for the second time next month.
Mr Ta’ufo’ou died on October 12, 2011. He’d been having stomach problems since the beginning of the year which doctors thought were caused by an ulcer.
It was August when stomach cancer was discovered and by that stage it was too late.
The father of one was a keen tag and league player and was training for a boxing fight when he was diagnosed.
He spent his last days working through a bucket list.
A few hours before he died he was surprised with a call from one of his music idols, Shania Twain. The hook up was organised by Ms McNabb. She is planning to have a life-size cut-out of Mr Ta’ufo’ou made up to display at the Ponsonby station fundraising days.
‘‘People might recognise him, he was their local firefighter,’’ she says.
Later it will hang in her daughter Layla’s bedroom – a permanent reminder of the dad she lost when she was just 4.
‘‘Just so she can remember how big he was.’’
Ms McNabb hasn’t let grief get the better of her.
‘‘Grief doesn’t kill you, even though sometimes you might wish it would. If someone you love has had the life they wanted so badly taken from them, you have to make damn sure you do the best to enjoy the one you’ve got. It’s the best way to honour someone.’’
Mr Ta’ufo’ou’s presence in the 2012 Firefighters Calendar also helped.
‘‘It was good to have him around, I’d go into offices and things and he’d be hanging there.’’
Ms McNabb is also planning to ride a leg of the Firefighters’ Ride for Cancer.
Firefighter Rob Appleton organised the motorbike event for the first time last year in honour of a number of colleagues who have died of cancer.
Ms McNabb started riding a motorbike after buying lessons for her and Mr Ta’ufo’ou as a Father’s Day present a few years before he died.
‘‘He hated it but I got a motorbike anyway,’’ she says.
She also did the charity ride last year and has upgraded to a Honda
Special ride: Firefighter Rob Appleton organised the first Firefighter’s Ride for Cancer last year. In honour: Candace McNabb, right, is fundraising for the Cancer Society of New Zealand after her partner Meki Ta’ufo’ died of the disease. Fundraising days are at the Ponsonby Fire Station, 182 Ponsonby Rd, from 10am to 2pm, on Saturday and November 9. There will be fire trucks and motorbikes to get photos with, face painting, icecreams, and fire service goodies for kids. The Firefighters’ Ride For Cancer is on from November 20 to 28. Visit rideforcancer.org.nz for more information, to sign up, or to sponsor a
Meki Ta’ufo’ou: A shot of the firefighter from the 2012 New Zealand Firefighters Calendar taken just
months before he died.