Christmas is the time for giving and for wishes to come true - and terminally ill Tahitian teenager Tamahere Tihata has got his wish on Mt Ruapehu.

All 13-year-old Tamahere wanted was to see snow but, due to health challenges from a debilitating muscle disease, he was unable to visit the mountain with the rest of his school class.

However, thanks to the fundraising efforts of family, friends and sponsors he was able to get his wish.

Tamahere recently joined a small group who had a Christmas lunch at one of Mt Ruapehu's cafes. When the weather cleared for a short time, he and his family were treated to a ride in the Sky Waka up to Knoll Ridge to the snow.


"I've never seen the mountains before, it was one of my dreams," Tamahere said.

"I loved the snow; however, it is actually freezing.

"I was so cold that when we arrived up the top I didn't want to go out any more, but I changed my mind because it was just so beautiful ... coming here I just couldn't wait, I wanted to eat some snow, and I did, we all did ... it just tastes cold."

He said he was interested in going back during winter to try the mountain's adaptive ski programme for people with physical, sensory or cognitive impairments.

"It sounds like skiing on Santa Claus' sledge, I would definitely give it a go."

Whakapapa Events & UX team leader Ros Cronk played a large role in making Tamahere's wish come true.

She contacted the group the day before their visit to explain the weather was not looking good and found out Tamahere was terminally ill and one of his final wishes was to simply touch snow for the first time.

"After this call I set about bringing snow down from the top just in case we couldn't get up there the next day.


"We had a very small weather window from 2pm–4pm [on the day] so got the group up there for an hour where they could bless Tamahere on snow and all experience it together."

Tamahere's mother Leydi Tihata said she was so happy to see her boy in the snow and their family had a snowball fight and loved it.

"I loved the scenery on the Sky Waka. Even with limited visibility, what we could see was amazing. Passing over waterfalls, snow guns, and being over the ski trails. I wouldn't try skiing, I'm just really happy to see it, everybody was."