Brooklyn Battle boost for child cancer cause

By Laurel Stowell

A fundraising touch rugby tournament on Saturday has provided a new charitable foundation with a giant boost.

The Brooklyn Love Foundation was started by Dominic and Ngareta Patea and whanau, after 11-year-old Brooklyn Hati-Bennett, who was in their care, died of cancer on September 8. They wanted to help other families who had children dying of cancer.

"He took us on that journey so that we could help other people," Mr Patea said.

They were a family with lots of support, but they still found Brooklyn's illness and death traumatic. Others were worse off.

"We know that up in Starship [Children's Hospital] there were other families that were struggling a lot."

Mr Patea is a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho, and also coaches representative touch rugby. Young Brooklyn used to play touch too.

So when the family were with him while he was in hospital in Auckland, friend and fellow foundation trustee Kyle Joe held a fundraising touch tournament for them in Palmerston North.

The Brooklyn Battle and festival on Saturday in the Wanganui City College grounds, was the second in Brooklyn's name. It went much better than expected, Mr Patea said.

There were 16 teams playing, including rep boys and girls teams from the Central Region Touch Association, which was having a camp in Wanganui. Other teams came from all over the central and lower North Island. Many of the players were at representative level.

The first game started at 10am, and the prizegiving was about 6.30pm - but none of the teams wanted prizes. They were happy to donate their $200 registration fee to the new foundation.

Those who tired of watching touch could listen to music. Throughout the day bands and individuals had 45-minute turns entertaining, from a stage on the back of a truck.

The touch rugby and the music created a festival atmosphere, and Mr Patea said another tournament was planned for next year - with even more teams.

He was amazed at the response.

"It's really humbling that people gave so much."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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