Tributes flow for Tonga seasonal worker who died in Australia

    Kāinga and friends have paid warm tribute to a Lapaha father who died while in Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program.

    Vaha ‘Ova, 41, was employed to work on a Robinvale farm for nine months. We mistakenly reported last week that Vaha was working in a farm in Mildura.

    Australian media have reported that Vaha’s “death is unexplained.”

    They said Vaha’s death did not occur on the farm.

    Weekly Times Now has quoted an Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman as saying that paramedics were waved down by people in a passing car at 2.15am on Friday 27.

    A video clip shared on Facebook by members of the Tongan community in the area showed paramedics and an ambulance with Tongan bystanders standing nearby.

    A person can be heard on the clip saying the paramedics were transferring Vaha into the ambulance.

    “Still can’t believe that you’ve gone too soon Vaha,” a commenter wrote on Facebook.

    The commenter said they were looking forward to welcome him back home and to continue on enjoying their kava sessions.

    “Toka ange pe ha ‘aho tetau toe felongoaki fiefia ai, kake toka aa ‘i he nonga mo e fiamalie ‘a e ‘Eiki. ‘Ofa atu kiho fofonga,” they said in Tongan.

    His sister who goes by the name Mary Jaiala Ova on Facebook wrote that Vaha sent her a Merry Christmas Wish before he died.

    She said Vaha wanted her to help him got to Australia so he can work and save money to build a house for his family in Tonga.

    “This morning is strange as I have not seen a post on Facebook or live streaming from you,” she wrote.

    In Tongan she wrote: “Ala si’oku tuonga’ane Vaha Ova na’a ke tohi mai pe ‘o Fakamonu’ia mai he Kilisimasi pea tala atu hoku ‘ofa ta ko ena ke teu koe ki he feitu’u ‘e taha…mate ‘ofa atu ki ho mata ho ta si’i kole mai ke tokoni atu ke ke si’i ‘alu ki Australia ke feinga’i hao ki’i motu’i fale moe famili ‘ofa atu ki he tafa’aki ‘e taha ki he famili hono katoa…Pongipongi fo’ou eni ikai keu sio ki hao post pe live R.I.L my dear brother.”

    Vaha’s death has become the 16th person to die while working on the controversial scheme

    The Courier-Mail revealed 13 workers had died on the Seasonal Worker Program, with extreme neglect allegedly contributing to a number of deaths and serious injuries.


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