AUCK, NZ – Hundreds of mourners gathered tonight at Howick to pay their respects to Tevita Vailala Pasikala, 24, who died in a car crash near Whakatane on January 5.
The crash happened on Thornton Road outside Whakatane after 6am, when a car ploughed into a tree.
The driver was already dead, and the car was on fire when emergency services arrived.
Police did not release the identity of the deceased immediately as the body had to be taken to a Hamilton hospital for an autopsy.
More than 10 days later and on last Thursday 17, police formally identified the deceased as Tongan Tevita Vailala Pasikala, aged 24.
Tonight his kāinga, family and friends gathered hugging and consoling each other as Pasikala’s coffin laid in his house.
Spokeswoman for the family, Sisifa Tangi said the farewell service will be held tomorrow at Tuingapapai church in Mangere before he will be laid to rest at the Manukau Memorial Garden, Papatoetoe.
Pasikala is survived by his wife and two children.