COMMENT

The year is 2049, and all is not well in New Zealand.

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Conservation efforts throughout the nation have been so successful that kiwis are the new seagulls - chip stealing and all.

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I won't even mention what has happened to the All Blacks' form.

Much has changed in our beautiful country. But alas, science and medicine in New Zealand have not advanced at all. How could this be? Well, the answer comes back to another thing which refuses to change in New Zealand.

Down the darkened halls of Parliament, Prime Minister Winston Peters lurks. Time no longer wearies him, and he has refused to age since some time around 2015, although no one can be exactly sure which year. Now 103 years old, two independent inquiries have failed to answer how this possible - although rumour has it he simply showed the "NO" sign to the grim reaper.

But the core of the story really begins 30 years earlier.

Sometime around mid-2019, Winston began to put all funds allocated for scientific testing programmes towards a revolutionary new idea. A world-first in science, created right here, in God's own country. Our best and brightest were commandeered from whatever test tube, microscope, or Bunsen burner they were fiddling with and locked together in a room until they cracked the case.

Winston had a puzzle on his hands. He had found that gaining the share of the vote required to hold the role of Deputy Prime Minister did not take much work, because apparently, it's bugger all. But his aspirations didn't stop there. Intoxicated by the power he held after the birth of Neve, he wanted the top job. He needed more votes. And the easiest, and perhaps only way to get more people to vote for NZ First? Bring them back from the dead.

The aim of the project was brilliant in its simplicity - to empty the graveyards of all past and potential NZ First voters, and fill their bodies with just enough life force to once again lumber towards the polling booth, clouding the air with guttural groans, probably about boy racers and taggers.

But the repercussions of this reached far beyond Parliament. Aside from a nationwide shortage of Werther's Originals, the diversion of all government funds for scientific testing stifled New Zealand's efforts to cure diseases, create scientific breakthroughs, and save lives.

Take for example, cancer. Once on the very edge of a breakthrough which would have found a cure once and for all, by 2049 it is now running rampant through our population.

But do not despair, this dark future is not set in stone; it doesn't have to be this way. However, if we want to change the course of history, we have to do something about it right now, today.

Winston gets a pass, we can't do much about him. What we can do instead is focus on the cancer curing part.

Medical research is something which is incredibly important to me. Twenty-five years ago, the type of cancer that I faced in 2015 was not treatable. That is to say, if I, or you, had been diagnosed in 1994, we would have been left to die. There's nothing the doctors could have done for us. But through the power of research, I am still here. That's a big difference to me.

Science was never my strong suit at school, it was too closely linked to maths, which was also not my strong suit. Most of my suits at schools were like the ones boy racers and taggers wear for court appearances, crinkled like a Werther's Originals wrapper. That is to say, I am not going to be the one who finds the cure to cancer and gets to call out "Eureka!".

That doesn't stop me from wanting to be a part of that cure though- in fact, it possibly makes me feel even more obliged to do whatever else I can to help.

So, two weeks from tomorrow, I'm setting off on a journey. I'll be cycling 1300km (or roughly the distance of Auckland to Wellington and back again), with enough hills to have climbed Mt Everest one and a half times over, to raise funds for cancer research, support and prevention projects.

It's my way of trying to do my part to give back, because I know that I would not still be around to attempt this were it not for the scientists who have dedicated their lives and careers to finding treatments and cures for cancer. The least I can do is to keep them going by providing the funds they need to do the research.

By doing this ride, I'm hoping to raise $20,000 so that in the future, when a cure is found, I will be able to tell my children that I played a part in making that happen. I wasn't able to be great behind a microscope, but I did everything I could do to contribute to finding a cure, to creating a better society, a brighter future. I did it for you. And as well as that, I did all that I could to support the people afflicted by this terrible disease, simply because I knew that was the right thing to do.

Click here to donate to Jake's fundraising goal and follow his progress