Family and friends celebrate the life of 'selfless hero' cancer campaigner Blair Vining

Almost 1000 people have descended on Southland's ILT Stadium on Wednesday to celebrate cancer campaigner Blair Vining's life. 

The 39-year-old, who was behind a successful 140,000 signature petition for better cancer care, died on Friday.

Blair is survived by his wife Melissa, and their two children. 

At the service, daughter Della-May shared her favourite things about her dad.

"Dad, I love looking into your big beautiful eyes," she said. "That's something I'm really going to miss.

"When I look into your eyes dad, I see a selfless hero, who I'm so proud to call my dad."

One of Blair's best friends, Ben McHugh, said he will miss Blair's bubbly, infectious personality and friendship.

"You fought a great fight mate," McHugh said. "It's now time for you, mate, to go and have a wee rest."

Brother Shaun remembered the selfless way Blair spent his final months.

"Blair decided to spend his final months battling for New Zealand; for you and I, for your mum and dad, for your brother, your sister, your friend, your neighbour [and] your colleague."

Shaun remembered Blair and his passions.

"He was always a larrikin, and a rugby head, but he always had a heart of gold," Shaun said. 

Friend Murray Mitchell recalled the humorous moment Blair asked him to speak at his funeral.

"I said, 'I'm not sure about this because I get pretty emotional at these things'.

"Blair looked at me and said, 'f**king harden up'."

Chris Jackson, Blair's oncologist, said speaking at the service was a bit like one of their appointments.

"It would start late, it would take twice as long as he expected, and Missy [wife Melissa] would probably have the final say," Jackson joked.

Blair Vining dedicated his final days campaigning to reform cancer care in New Zealand.
Blair Vining dedicated his final days campaigning to reform cancer care in New Zealand. Photo credit: Supplied

Blair was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in October last year and given just eight weeks to live.

He and Melissa had dedicated their days to campaigning for reform in the way cancer is treated and equal care for cancer sufferers throughout New Zealand.