Airport memorial service for victims as ACC promises to help pay for funeral costs

    New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) will pay up to $6000 for the funeral costs of the four Tongans killed in a horror car crash in Katikati on August 2.

    The news was applauded by the Tongan-Auckland based Recognised Seasonal Employer Liaison Officer Sefita hao’uli.

    When the RSE programme began in 2007 Hao’uli recommended to the then Tongan Labour and Commerce Minister Lisiate ‘Akolo that they set up an insurance scheme for the Tongan workers.

    The Tongan workers were insured in the first year of RSE for medical costs and doctors’ visits.

    The next year all the other countries involved in the scheme followed suit and it became compulsory for everyone, Hao’uli said.

    “Our workers also pay for ACC – which is a deduction that every NZ workers pays – and many have benefited from this through injuries at work and while playing football during the weekend,” Hao’uli said.

    “There was a tendency for workers to complain about insurance, but they’ve come to appreciate why it is important.”

    Victims arrived home

    Meanwhile the caskets of four of the victims have arrived in Tonga.

    Sitiveni Vaipulu, 44, his son Koli Vaipulu, 21, Sione Teulaka, 21, Halani Fine, 29, and Samuela Taukatelata, 28, all died instantly when the car they were in collided with a logging truck in New Zealand’s third most dangerous highway.

    Fine, a New Zealand resident was buried on Thursday in Northshore, New Zealand.

    The bodies of the four victims were welcomed with a memorial service at the airport this morning. The occasion was described on social media as heart-breaking and distressing.

    This was the first time the families of the victims in Tonga had seen their bodies since they died more than a week ago.

    The service was attended by the Prime Minister, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, along with some cabinet members and the New Zealand High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sarah Walsh.

    Hon. Pohiva and Walsh laid wreaths in front of the victims’ caskets.

    A commenter on Facebook, Patimiosi Ngungutau, who attended the service, said he thought he had the courage to hold back his tears. But when he saw some of the victims’ children crying while the Police band played he could not compose himself.

    Everyone at the airport cried when the caskets arrived, another commenter wrote.

    Following the memorial service the victims were taken home by their various families.

    The main points

    • New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) will pay up to $6000 for the funeral costs of the four Tongans killed in a horror car crash in Katikati on August 2.
    • Meanwhile the caskets of four of the victims arrived in Tonga this morning.
    • Sitiveni Vaipulu, 44, his son Koli Vaipulu, 21, Sione Teulaka, 21, Halani Fine, 29, and Samuela Taukatelata, 28, all died instantly when the car they were in collided with a logging truck in New Zealand’s third most dangerous highway.
    • The service was attended by the Prime Minister, Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva, along with some cabinet members and the New Zealand High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sarah Walsh.

    For more information

    Aongatete final goodbyes, crash victims’ caskets arrive in Auckland

    Sombre vigil: Aucklanders text to send their love to victims, Tongan leader Tāmeifuna says

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