• Video: Hastings Ambassador opens up about personal family journey

Video: Hastings Ambassador opens up about personal family journey

Henare O’Keefe, the Hastings Ambassador, has opened up about a personal family journey which has seen him spending time in Auckland supporting his granddaughter Aorangi at Starship Hospital.

O’Keefe has also thanked the community, especially Flaxmere, and health professionals in Hawke’s Bay and Auckland for the support they have received.. He has highlighted the role Ronadl McDonald House plays for families of children who are in Starship Hospital. A GiveALittle page, set up by Hastings District Councillor Damon Harvey, has raised money for the family’s expenses during their health situation.

In a video interview with Hawke’s Bay App, O’Keefe said: “I'm here at the bedside vigil with my granddaughter, my beautiful, delicious granddaughter. It's now out in the public arena. She had a tumour removed, removed a tumour on the brain. And so I'm here. It is my rotation, it's my turn as a grandfather to be here and support as she undergoes radiation treatment, et cetera, et cetera.”

“It's been an absolute privilege being here at Ronald McDonald House. These people are just ... They're outstanding. I'm talking about the surgeons, the cleaners. Each and every one of them we've befriended them. And we've drawn them in close into our world and us into their world. It's possibly one of the most satisfying things I've ever done in my whole entire life.”

Asked where his family got their strength from, O'Keefe said: “Even at our weakest, we're at our strongest, Aorangi's mum and being a mother, sometimes there are some pains and some circumstances are just way out of your control. So in most instances, we've only had one another. But the overarching thing for all of that is our faith.”

O’Keefe, who is prolific on social media, has been using Facebook to post video interview with staff at Starship and Ronald McDonald House, from cleaners to surgeons.

He says it is important to showcase what they do.

“The reason I've done that is to expose the work that they do here, put it into public arena. It just you walk in there and you feel like you are valued. You feel like you're appreciated, even in your darkest moments. And that's what it's about. And then the surgeons, well, they've become personal friends.”

“The system here for the families and the children, it's outstanding. It's second to none. And if anybody out there has the inclination to do something or support it in any way, please, it is an investment. It is an investment in the future of this country. Everything from the sleeping quarters to the companionship, it's simply been amazing.”

To see the full interview with Henare O’Keefe, watch the accompanying video.