A concert to honour Waiariki
Music heals. A grieving family is honouring the wishes of their late sister by holding a benefit concert at their marae tomorrow.
Mangere teenager Waiariki Rakena died in September, 12 months after she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
But Makaurau Marae whanau are making sure her legacy lives on.
"She was a leader in her own sense at such a young age. She touched a lot of hearts from tamariki right through to kuia and kaumatua," eldest sister Waimarie McFarland says.
"Thousands attended her tangi, people we didn't even know."
A keen dancer and musician, Waiariki also taught dance at STRIVE Community Trust in Mangere.
Before her 18th birthday earlier this year the two sisters were planning a charity bash to raise awareness and money for CanTeen - the organisation that supports young people living with cancer, and their families - but her spiralling condition meant she never got to realise the dream.
Waiariki was an ardent fan of CanTeen and was one of the faces for its 2012 Bandanna Campaign alongside ambassador and Silver Fern Maria Tutaia.
The vivacious teenager's passion for life was recognised at the recent CanTeen Annual Awards where she was posthumously given the Live Life Award.
"CanTeen has a set of values and one of those that Waiariki really embraced was ‘live life'," organisation youth worker Naghmeh Allahverdi-Gorji says.
Ten weeks on from her tangi Waiariki's whanau is opening the marae for an all-ages community event that includes some of her favourite Kiwi artists including NRG Rising, Tama Waipara and Valiant Boys.
The event is aptly named I GOT THIS! in honour of Waiariki's catchphrase and all profits will go towards CanTeen in her name.
Silver Fern Maria Tutaia has thrown her weight behind the event by donating her Silver Ferns playing uniform and a signed training top to be auctioned and raffled on the day.
For Waimarie the event will be a bittersweet reminder of the little sister who was taken.
"I envisaged being together on the day."
But she says Waiariki's spirit and memory will be alive as they pay tribute to everyone affected by cancer.
"Her legacy and fighting spirit will always stand out - just realising that you don't need anything more than aroha. Money can't buy what life is all about.
"Through the universal language of music I'm hoping whanau and friends gain a sense of healing."
To donate to CanTeen in Waiariki's name, use the account number: 06 0209 0039328 00 REF: I GOT THIS
Waiariki's community event will be held at Makaurau Marae in Mangere, five minutes from Auckland International Airport.
Koha entry fee, entertainment and 15 kai stalls, spot donations, raffles and auctions.
Local graffiti artists doing live demonstrations will auction their work for the cause.
A Kids Zone run by STRIVE Community Trust, includes games, bouncy castles and Aotearoa music.
The event runs from 9.30am till 5pm tomorrow at Makaurau Marae, 8 Ruaiti Rd, Ihumatao, Mangere. Follow signs for parking.
Contact Qiane at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.