Gino's home for Christmas
Public interest in a Manawatu schoolboy battling a brain tumour was so strong, hospital staff pushed forward his treatment so he could be home by Christmas.
Gino Carroll, 10, from Bunnythorpe, has spent the past three months at Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital.
He returned to Auckland on Boxing Day after spending Christmas at home - the second time he had been back in Manawatu since his cancer diagnosis almost four months ago.
The bright, rugby-mad St Joseph's pupil left his classmates in August to have surgery for the first time, and has since been through gruelling chemotherapy treatment for the tumour.
Both Gino's parents are deaf, and his initial diagnosis was communicated to them through an interpreter.
Since the family's ordeal began, donations have flooded in. More than $16,000 has been given to support them during his treatment, including this month's concert, which drew a crowd of 300, raising $4000.
Originally, Gino's treatment schedule prevented him from being able to attend a concert held in his honour in Feilding earlier this month.
But when Starship staff saw Gino's story in the media, they did all they could to push forward his treatment so that he could be home in time for the concert - and for Christmas.
Against the odds, Gino was able to spend the festive season at home surrounded by friends and family, where he was "spoilt", according to his uncle, Reihana Haronga.
Mr Haronga said his nephew was soldiering on with his treatment since he returned to the hospital.
At the beginning of this month, Gino's brain tumour measured about 5 centimetres by 3cm. Now, MRI scans show it is has shrunk to about 1cm across and 5mm in depth.
Gino's cousin and Mr Haronga's son, Kaden Penman, 7, a former pupil at Hokowhitu School, and now at Northcote Primary in Auckland, had shaved off his hair in support of his cousin, raising thousands of dollars in the process.
And in October, Sam Mutch, from Palmerston North, set himself a goal to raise $5000 in five days to help pay the family's bills and other costs related to Gino's treatment. Instead, Mr Mutch and his helpers raised more than $10,000.
Gino had received support from the All Blacks, the Manawatu Turbos and even from the captain of the French rugby team, and the family was floored by generosity from many people they had never even met.
"We aren't seeking any more donations at this stage. But people are still giving donations, it's just amazing," Mr Haronga said.