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ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013
Make A Wish
WISH FULFILLED: Cancer patient Sione Mataele meets his favourite artist, Tiki Taane, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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An iPad is just a gadget to most youngsters but it's so much more for Sione Mataele.

The tablet the 13-year-old received from the Make-A-Wish Foundation was also a symbol of hope, his mother Malia says.

"It made him feel like he still had something to live for."

The foundation grants wishes to children aged 3-17 with life-threatening medical conditions and will benefit from donations collected at this year's Pasifika Festival on March 9 and 10 at Western Springs.

Sione was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, in the middle of last year.

The Mangere Bridge teenager underwent chemotherapy, which left him feeling "sick and tired", and had a bone in his left leg replaced with a metal rod.

The ordeal was difficult for him physically and mentally and the whole family struggled with fear after the diagnosis, Ms Mataele says.

"I tried to accept what will happen in the future but it is hard.

"It was very unexpected because Sione was always a very healthy boy."

The iPad arrived at Sione's house after he told Make-A-Wish volunteers he wanted one so he could make music.

But there were more surprises in store - it was delivered by his favourite musician, Tiki Taane.

The dubstep artist also presented Sione with an electric guitar and software so he can record his own tunes on to the iPad and then performed an impromptu version of his hit song Always On My Mind.

Make-A-Wish volunteer Rowan Schaaf says it was "absolutely awesome" seeing Sione receive his iPad.

"He had a great time that day - his smile was a mile wide when Tiki came through the door."

Mr Schaaf has been a volunteer with the foundation for about two years and says he's been privy to some amazing moments.

"There's a certain pleasure you get out of seeing these kids and helping them find some joy and some strength out of these experiences."

Make-A-Wish New Zealand started in 1986 and has granted more than 1000 wishes since then - 200 of them granted in the past year alone.

Ms Mataele says she's hugely grateful to the foundation for what it has done for her son, who is now in remission.

"It's the kind of thing that as a parent we can't afford to give Sione. It's a great relief."

Go online to makeawish.org.nz for more information about the foundation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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