National | Inspiration

Whānau, friends mourn inspiring young footy player after shock cancer battle

The promising young rugby player and award-winning apprentice engineering worker who inspired the nation to get behind his battle against a rare genetic cancer has died.

Hunter Donghi was just 20 years old when, in December last year, he went out for dinner but found himself in hospital with what he thought was food poisoning. To his whānau’s shock, it turned out to be a rare, terminal cancer.

The diagnosis was a cruel déja vu for his family. Hunter is one of four boys including twin Boston; their father died of undetected cancer that had metastasized to the liver at just 35.

The community, especially Hunter’s Napier Tech rugby club where he played at No.7, rallied around him with charity auctions, quiz nights, raffles and hāngi sales to fund a treatment not supported by Pharmac, with the aim of prolonging his life.

Club president Jamie Bryant described the young player as "the best bloke" saying he was humble and "one of the most loyal and hardworking guys" on the team.

Loved by all

A GiveALittle campaign raised $93,365 of a $70,000 target for his treatment in just a few days.

A heartbroken club announced today, however, that after a brave battle, Hunter had died at home in Tamatea on Monday morning.

“It is with overwhelming sorrow that Hunter’s whānau announce his passing” Bryant said in a statement.

“Hunter, son of Paul Donghi (deceased), will forever be loved and remembered by Mum Kylee, Step-Dad Bryan, brothers Logan, Jordan and Boston and partner Emma.”

“Hunter is a loved grandson, nephew, cousin, step-brother, brother-in-law, loyal friend, hard-working work colleague and humble and dedicated teammate and club man.”

Napier Tech will host a farewell at the club at 11am on Saturday, April 2, which the public is welcome to attend. He will lay in wake at his home in Tamatea till then.

In lieu of flowers, the whānau ask for donations to Cranford Hospice.

Tēnā tātou e te whānau It is with overwhelming sorrow, that Hunter’s whānau, announce his passing at the young age of...

Posted by Napier Technical Sports Club on Sunday, March 27, 2022