Sky Tower Stair Challenge raises $1.25m

(L-R) Steve Flett, Ben Hussey, Ollie Griffin. Photo supplied

A team from the Howick Volunteer Fire Brigade (HVFB) raised close to $10,000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) by racing up Sky Tower.

They got in behind the top individual fundraiser not in a team, Maaka McKinney, too.
McKinney raised $16,430 after he spent three weeks cycling up the South Island and walking up the North Island before tackling the stairs on the day. He was greeted with an emotional haka on the morning of the event.

A group from the HVFB – Richard McLaren, David Paisley and Kaileigh Howard – joined McKinney on the last mammoth 50km leg from the Bombay Hills to the Sky Tower.

They kitted up in their fire gear, joined by a crew from the army, police and ambulance,” a spokesperson said.

“The 50km walk took them about 12.5hrs, they rested every fews km for 5 minuntes, rehydrated, ate and checked those increasingly-sore feet.

Maaka McKinney arrives to an emotional haka. Photo supplied

“The camaraderie, spirit and support in this pack march was a very humbling experience.
“They arrived at the Sky Tower with fire fighters lining the streets, cheering in adulation of Maaka’s phenomenal feat.”

The walk was then followed up by stellar sub-20 minute stair climb – 51 flights, 1,103 steps wearing 25kg of kit breathing apparatus.

Three other Howick Volunteer Firefighters completed the climb, with station boss Eamonn Guinan having to withdraw “with a serious case of man-flu”, with rookie firefighter Ben Hussey taking the day with a 14.55 climb. Others to compete were Steve Flett and Ollie Griffin, and Howick career FF Andrew Tomlinson third with a scintillating climb time of 9.50.

Howick VFB collected $9892 for LBC from corporate sponsors, friends and a good chunk generously donated from the patrons of the local bars Grangers, Applejacks, The Barrel Inn, Corner bar, The Good Home, Goode Bros and Doolans, and the public.

Nine hundred firefighters from communities around New Zealand as well as Australia, USA, Chile and Croatia took to the steps of Sky Tower.

Howick crew with Maaka McKinney on their walk to Auckland. Photo supplied

The 2017 target was set at $900,000 which was achieved four days before the event with the figure landing well beyond the target.

The firefighters have dedicated huge amounts of their personal time over the past six months to exceed their fundraising efforts in 2016 with the top fundraising spots highly contested.

Simon Oliver from New Plymouth West Volunteer Fire Brigade who raised $25,976 was named the top fundraiser for the second year in a row.

The team that raised the most money was Auckland Airport Rescue Fire with $62,218. The brigade who raised the most money based on the number of firefighters in the team was Tamatea Rural Fire Force with $21,505.

The current top record holder for speed is Josh Harrison from Mount Wellington Station who has kept his first place spot for seven years running reaching the top of the tower in 9 minutes and 20 seconds. In second place was William Garnett from Auckland Airport Fire Rescue who completed the climb in 9 minutes and 38 seconds, while Andrew Tomlinson from Howick Station came third.

The fastest woman up the tower was Rebecca Wright from Otara Station with a time of 13 minutes and 59 seconds.

For a full record of race results visit


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