Taika Waititi calls for more Maori bone-marrow donors

  • 29/12/2016

Actor and filmmaker Taika Waititi is a busy man, but today he dedicated a few hours to supporting child cancer, hoping other Maori and Pacific Islanders follow his lead.

The Oscar nominee visited the NZ Blood headquarters in Auckland to join the bone marrow registry.

Only 8000 Maori are currently registered - making it hard for many cancer sufferers to find their life saving match.

Whakatane couple Keri and Ryan Topperwien know this struggle well. Four-and-a-half years ago they lost their son, Chace, to Leukaemia after none of the world's 19 million donors were right for him.

In his memory, the pair set up the Dream Chaser Foundation, focusing their efforts on helping other families with sick children.

They approached Waititi six months ago asking for his support. After being touched by their story, he got on board.

Waititi says it's often a "big thing" for Maori and Pacific Islanders to give away a part of their body, but says it's a "traditional idea that we need to get around".

"Think of Chace, the brave boy. If there were more matches out there or more people on the register at that time - who knows?" says the Boy director.

"If anything ever happened to me and I needed a donor, I'd love to know that there were more people out there who were on the registry."

Waititi says a pin prick is small in the scheme of things.

"I've always been a bit squeamish around needles, but when I hear the stories about what a lot of these kids are going through, I've got to man up and deal with that."

He says he hopes he can show others that if he can find the time, anybody can.

"I'm flying back to US tomorrow to keep editing Thor and I've got a lot to do, but it's an hour out of my day and hopefully one day it changes somebody's life."