A Flaxmere couple featured in Hawke's Bay Today's Fighting Poverty campaign are overwhelmed after returning from Auckland, where their daughter received cancer treatment, to find their home full of donated gifts.

When Sharon and Vili Malaitai last spoke to Hawke's Bay Today, they were preparing to leave on 10-day trip to Auckland so that their 4-year-old daughter Sienna could undergo chemotherapy treatment at Starship Hospital. She had recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.

Then living in a household of 15, the hard-working Malaitai family told Hawke's Bay Today how they managed to put food on the table for 10 children as part of the Fighting Poverty campaign.

In Auckland, the family were told Sienna's cancer was stage three, which they hadn't expected, Ms Malaitai said.


"It was all the way through her body."

Mr Malaitai said the chemotherapy treatment - the first of eight rounds -- was taking its toll on Sienna; she was tired and beginning to lose her hair.

However, they were unaware that during their time in Auckland, Vili's parents, Iaeli and Sam Malaitai, were busy receiving countless gifts from members of the community who had read about the Malaitais in Hawke's Bay Today.

When the Malaitais returned from Auckland and walked in the door, their house was packed with donated food, toys and painted signs which read "welcome home".

Sport Hawke's Bay, Peterhead School and the MAC Sports Association had all contributed.

When Farmlands Hastings read the story, they gathered food, toys and $280 cash for the family.

"When I walked in I couldn't help but cry," Ms Malaitai said.

"I was so emotional, thinking I've got to come home and pick up the pieces."


But the family had been given a massive boost.

Hawke's Bay Today visited the Malaitai family yesterday, dropping off boxes and bags of food donated by staff members, and a box of food donated by the Salvation Army's Flaxmere Corps.

John Reeves, a plasterer from Hastings, also visited the Malaitai home yesterday, donating a brand new single bed and pillows.

"We'd just been keeping it in the shed, and then I read in the paper that Sienna needed a bed."

Sienna continues to receive treatment while at home through a nasogastric tube. Her next chemotherapy treatment is scheduled for next month.

"We're overwhelmed by all the support given to us by strangers," Mr Malaitai said.