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Netball superstar fronts up for CanTeen Bandanna Challenge

13 September 2012

Netball superstar fronts up for CanTeen Bandanna Challenge

Netball legend Maria Tutaia is using her star power to speak up for young people living with cancer.

The star netballer is making time in her hectic schedule, training for next week’s Netball Constellation Cup, to be the face of CanTeen’s Bandanna Challenge, and will be appearing on TV screens in a commercial this week appealing to New Zealanders for their support.

Maria came onboard as a CanTeen Ambassador in 2008 and has designed a bandanna every year for Bandanna Challenge, which runs this year from September 14 to 30.

The 25 year-old says she jumped at the opportunity to be involved in CanTeen, an organisation which supports young people aged 13 to 24 living with cancer as patients, siblings and bereaved siblings.

“I’ve had quite a few family members who have died from cancer, so what better way to support my peers than by being a part of something amazing and hopefully make a difference,” she says.

“CanTeen’s range of programmes are uplifting and help their members to feel positive about themselves; something which is a lot harder to achieve when you’re on your own. I have seen first-hand the amazing job CanTeen does making sure young people never feel like they are alone on their journey.”

Maria is joined in the TV commercial by CanTeen patient members Noah Lockett-Turton and Waiariki Rakena.

Noah, 16, was diagnosed at age 14 with a very rare form of brain cancer of the pineal gland.

He says joining CanTeen at this time provided an essential distraction from negative thoughts about surgery, treatment and his future.

“CanTeen helped me through my cancer journey - there really is no other place like it. Cancer may have taught me that life is short, but CanTeen taught me to live my life to the fullest.”

The Bandanna Challenge has been running for 14 years, and the unique and colourful bandannas remain a symbol for hope, courage and strength for young cancer patients and their families.

The bandannas have been designed by Tutaia, along with CanTeen’s other celebrity ambassadors including surfer Paige Hareb, free-skier Jossi Wells, rugby player Daniel Carter and clothing label Federation. They have all created unique and eye-catching designs which are sure to be popular sellers during this year’s Bandanna Challenge appeal.

They are joined by CanTeen patient member, Konagh Garrett, patient and sibling member Anna Hocquard, and sibling member Mikayla Archer who all had their stand-out designs selected for this year’s appeal.

CanTeen receives no direct government funding so relies on its own fundraising efforts and the generosity of the New Zealand public. The funds raised through Bandanna Challenge will go towards providing peer counselling workshops, development and leadership programmes, recreational activities and much more.

Bandannas will be on sale for $4 each from 14 to 30 September at participating schools, all PAK’nSAVE, New World and Four Square supermarkets, Burger King, BP stations, Famers, Repco, Warehouse Stationery and at In addition, during the annual appeal some local CanTeen branches will be holding fundraising events.

Donations can also be made by visiting or calling 0900 4 CANTEEN to make an instant $20 donation.


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