Climbing the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere in full firefighter kit, Ngahi Bidois will be motivated by a fire in his belly to honour his mate for a good cause.
Next Saturday Bidois, a professional international speaker, will suit up and climb the 1103 steps of the Auckland Sky Tower to raise money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC).
The Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge is an annual fundraiser for LBC which is now in its 15th year, raising $1.25 million last year for LBC which receives no government funding.
In 25kg suits, 100 firefighters and community members from around New Zealand will kit-up and climb the 51 flights.
According to LBC, six New Zealanders are diagnosed with a blood cancer each day; a disease that can strike anyone of any age with no known causes.
With no illusions of how tough it will be, Bidois is welcoming the challenge to honour his friend, Darcy Hunter Junior, who died in 2017 after being diagnosed with blood cancer.
"No pain no gain, that's something Darce would always say," he said.
Hunter was one of Bidois' dearest friends. "An all-around amazing guy: loved by everyone and always up for a challenge."
Hunter accumulated an impressive list of speedway titles including the Bay of Plenty Championships, the Auckland Championships, and the 2002 and 2005 World Invitation Super Stock Championship.
"But you would never know, he was just such a humble guy," Bidois said.
In a previous column he wrote for the Rotorua Daily Post, Bidois said Hunter was a modern-day Māori warrior.
"A peaceful Māori warrior who let his actions do the talking."
"We would always call each other 'The Man,'" Bidois remembered.
"He would say 'that us Ngahi, the man?' And I would say, 'that's us, Darcy, the man'," before the two embarked on a new adventure.
At the age of 42, Hunter left behind a young widow, Moana, and their two children.
"That was just one battle that he didn't win," he said.
"I was guttered. I still am. He was just such an amazing guy."
For Bidois, the Firefighter Challenge is his way of helping those affected by blood cancer.
"They say you die twice, once when you die physically and once when they mention your name for the last time and part of my mission is to make sure Darcy is remembered for a very long time to come."
Training has included stair climbers and rowing machines, a stationary bike and running the steps at Smallbone Park.
"If anyone sees a Māori guy running up the stairs at Smallbone Park they know why," he laughed.
But he knew Hunter would do the same for anyone if the situation was reversed.
And in the true spirit of his mate that would go above and beyond, Bidois' fundraising goal is $10,000, $7500 more than what was set by LBC.
LBC chief executive Peter Fergusson said money raised would help fund emotional and practical support for patients, education, investment in research to find a cure and patient advocacy.
"We are incredibly grateful...It takes a special kind of person like Ngahi to do a challenge like this, he'll be helping many blood cancer patients whom he has never even met," Fergusson said.
While the climb may be painful, Bidois knows his mate will be climbing with him.
To donate to Bidois' fundraiser head to his donation page