A helicopter took his grandfather's life, but seeing the aircraft landing from his room at Starship Hospital brought joy for an Auckland toddler who has just weeks to live.

Two-year-old Mason Knight, whose pilot grandfather Ross Harvey was killed when the police helicopter crashed at Spaghetti Junction in 1993, has terminal leukaemia.

His mother Sarah Harvey said the helicopters played an important part in her son and family's lives.

"He's only 2 so he's spent his life in the hospital. He would see the helicopters land on the roof of the carpark and we'd say, 'It's granddad coming to make sure you're okay'."


On Friday, the family went to the police Eagle base at Mechanics Bay, adjacent to the Auckland Westpac Rescue base, and Mason was able to sit in the helicopters.

"When we were told that Mason just has a couple of weeks, we created a little bucket list of things that we think a 2-year-old would like.

"He always liked helicopters in books as well, so that combined with the helicopters landing and history of Dad, there was a massive connection there."

Harvey was accompanied by her partner Jay Knight and their other son Weslley, 4, as well as her younger sister, Rachel, and her family. The visit to the base was "emotion on top of emotion," said Harvey, who was just 12 years old when the police helicopter her father was flying in collided mid-air with the police traffic control plane. All four men in the two aircraft died.

Despite Mason going into remission last year after intensive chemotherapy treatment and a bone marrow transplant from this older brother, the family were last week told the heartbreaking news that the cancer was back, and it was terminal.

"It's heartbreaking. Everything was going so well," she said.

"We were on the road to recovery, we thought we had beaten it. He seems so healthy and happy.

"This time last week we were just doing normal things, we hadn't even fathomed the idea of anything like this happening to our family.

"We are just trying to live every day as a happy day and we are just trying to do everything we can."

Harvey said the support of Starship, in particular ward 27b oncology, and the Child Cancer Foundation had been phenomenal throughout Mason's illness.

How to help

Donations can be made to Starship (oncology) at starship.org.nz or to the Child Cancer Foundation at childcancer.org.nz