Te Amo-haere Rudolph gave every impression yesterday that she didn't have a care in the world. But she has. And she is not alone.
Sixteen-year-old Te Amo-haere and her fellow Far North Surf Rescue volunteer Georgia Buckingham are both undergoing treatment for cancer, as is 2-year-old Laurel-Jae Twaddell. Appeals have been launched on the givealittle website on behalf of all three, all from Kaitaia.
Te Amo-haere was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare, malignant tumour of the liver, just before Christmas. She is back home this week, but only temporarily. She'll be back at Starship next week for further treatment.
She was planning to swing by Kaitaia College (where she won the premier junior school award, the Clifford M Matthews memorial prize, last year) to pick up some work. And she was glad to be home, even if only for a few days and after a gruelling drive from Auckland.
"We're getting used to it though. It's just down the road for us now," she said.
He father Vincent said she had been diagnosed with the cancer when she was a pre-schooler.
"It was a one in a million chance that it would come back but it has," he said, adding that his daughter was being treated and cared for by the same people she first met when she was 3.
She was a strong, very active girl, a keen gym-goer, a member of St John and an under-7 netball coach. Last week she had been visited by some of the Surf Rescue crew from Ahipara, which had given everyone a lift.
Meanwhile her mother Annie, who stays with her daughter in hospital, said the support the family were receiving was overwhelming.
"Whanau, friends, the wider community, people we don't even know are there for us," she said.
We've always worked for what we have, and to get this sort of support is humbling.
"We're feeling the support and love [in Auckland]. It's helping us get through each day."
Georgia's family are going through a similar ordeal. Father Glenn is commuting between Kaitaia (where her brother has just started college) and Auckland, while mum Jo stays with her at Starship.
Georgia, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia late last year, began her first round of chemotherapy on Boxing Day, and is expected to remain at Starship for four to six months.
Sister Hayley said she had been a perfect patient, no complaints, and still tried to find a smile every time a visitor, nurse or doctor called by, "which shows what a brave, happy girl she is".
"We have been overwhelmed with the support we have had from everyone who knows Georgia and our family. Although Georgia doesn't need a lot at the moment, apart from our love and support, we thought that when she gets better perhaps a family holiday or a room make-over could be in order, and of course a new outfit for the 5SOS concert in June," she added.
Two-year-old Laurel-Jae Twaddell was diagnosed with retinoblastoma four months ago; two weeks ago it cost him his left eye. Every three weeks he and his family travel from Kaitaia to Starship for treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery.
There is still a chance that he will also lose his right eye, and his parents are anxious to raise enough money to take him to Disneyland while he still has his vision. A big fan of tractors and diggers, he would also love to go to Big Boys' Toys this year with his dad and little brother.
"Your donations will mean that I get to go out and experience more precious moments with my family and friends that I may never have got to experience without your love and support," his mum Opal Ford says on his behalf on his givealittle page.
"Raising money would also help me and my family travel between Kaitaia and Auckland every three weeks ... meaning I have a better chance at getting all better again. Eventually Mummy and Daddy want to get our own car and house so I can travel and live more easily."
-As of yesterday Te Amo-haere's givealittle page (www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/supportteamohaere) had raised $3618, Georgia's page (www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/georgiabuckingham) $5510, and Laurel-Jae's page (www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/supportlaurel-jae) $681.