MS Auckland’s fabulous fundraiser luncheon, Life Buoy for MS was held at a new venue, the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre in Tamaki Drive, on Sunday 12 November. It stands as another humbling success for the organisation with over $100,000 raised for the local MS community. The generous contributions from auctioned items, pledges and donations raised in excess of $100,000 to support people living with the challenges of multiple sclerosis.  

There were some fabulous items up for grabs, every dollar raised supporting the MS community: fantastic memories could be made from a special meal with Sir Graham and Lady Raewyn Henry, a classic yacht experience, a family day out, beautiful jewellery and special sporting memorabilia. 

A moving welcome address from MS Auckland general manager, Nicola Bitossi, set the tone for the event. She said,

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of an organisation that makes a big difference. Because anyone can be impacted by MS, and it plays out differently for each one, MS Auckland provides a range of programmes to help everyone with MS live as full a life as possible”. 

Two hundred supporters enjoyed a delicious three course lunch in a stunning location with captivating views over the Waitemata Harbour, highlighted by a typically openhearted talk from Kiwi sports legend Ruby Tui. Ruby told her avid audience she only started playing rugby after she finished school. She says she wasn’t the strongest player but had coaches who believed in her, and, in a lesson for all of us, she persevered and kept going.  

Ruby Tui and Sir Graham Henry

Ruby spoke of the connection she formed with a young fan who had recently been through extensive cancer treatment and spoke of her ‘dusty eyes’ when the girl gifted Ruby her favourite bead from her hospital treatments necklace after Ruby gave her Rugby World Cup medal. Dry eyes were getting scarce on Tamaki Drive too! 

A Q&A session with Sir Graham Henry and Ruby, facilitated by MC and former Black Fern Melodie Robinson, was both genuine and amusing. Especially when Sir Graham was pushed on whether he preferred coaching the boys or the girls! 

MS Auckland member Shea Tagilala shared her story of total right side paralysis when first diagnosed with MS, through to relearning how to walk – and paint with her left (non-dominant) hand.  During the luncheon, Shea completed her stunning painting of a huia bird. It was sold by auction at conclusion of the event for $2,400.