In August 2016, Kiwi entertainer Pio Terei and his family were devastated when his 17-year old son Teina lost his battle with leukemia.
The youngest of three sons, Teina was about to receive a bone marrow transplant from his older brother when he suffered complications and died.
Teina was buried in the Hokianga at Mātihetihe Marae in Mitimiti.
Two years on the pain is still raw and the Terei family are still dealing with Teina’s death.
Pio, a parenting advocate and mentor, says he’s faced some dark times since Teina “flew away” and has struggled with his grief.
“For me, grief is this dark hole that you fall into now and then, you have triggers,” says Pio, “But if you don’t make a world around that hole that you can come out and live in, then you have no escape.”
To keep his memory alive, the family established Trust Teina, a project to encourage more Māori and Pacific men to donate their bone marrow.
Worldwide there are 22 million bone marrow donors. Of that number, only 7,800 are Māori or Pacific donors.
Next year, Pio will travel to China and walk the Great Wall to support the Make a Wish Foundation’s fundraiser for critically ill children.
It’s payback to the Foundation for granting Teina’s wish of going to LA and meeting actor Will Ferrell.
Pio will also commission a specially designed teddy bear, named for Teina, to drum up support. The creation will be part of a range of bespoke bears which have already been sent all over the world.