A large crowd has gathered for the memorial for cancer care advocate Blair Vining in Invercargill, many wearing rugby jerseys to acknowledge his passion for the sport.

The 39-year-old father of two died on Friday, almost a year after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.

The service at ILT Stadium Southland at 11.30am today will feature a dozen speakers, a guard of honour and a haka.

Originally Vining wished for his service to be held at Bill Richardson Transport World, but it was decided it would be more appropriate to be held at ILT Stadium Southland to accommodate numbers. Memorabilia from transport world was taken to the stadium for the service.


Given only eight weeks to live, the Vining family was told wait time for treatment at Southland Hospital would be the same.

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Vining received treatment privately and, knowing he would leave his wife Melissa and two daughters Della-May and Lily behind, made a bucket list that aimed to reduce the number of patients whose family would experience the same.

Many mourners have come to today;s funeral wearing rugby jerseys.
Many mourners have come to today;s funeral wearing rugby jerseys.

His Facebook page that generated nationwide support, Blair Vining's Epic Journey, was used as a platform to create conversation about under-resourced district health boards.

More than 140,700 people signed the petition that called for better cancer care in New Zealand, and the creation of a national cancer agency - his very last item on his bucket list.

Since the petition was presented, Parliament announced its New Zealand Cancer Action Plan 2019–2029, focused on delivering outcomes in four areas.

Those areas were consistent and modern cancer care, equitable cancer outcomes, fewer cancers and better cancer survival.

Vining and his family recently began pushing for the establishment of a charity hospital and interested representatives and individuals met last month in Invercargill to discuss the feasibility of this.


While Vining could not attend, as he was receiving treatment in Dunedin, Melissa Vining said she was overwhelmed by the generosity shown at the meeting.

A post on his Facebook page thanked supporters - "you have shared our journey over the last year and wrapped us in love, Blair's life will be celebrated on 16 October at Stadium Southland."