Family, kāinga of RSE worker kiss his coffin in emotional moment at Tongatapu service

The grieving family members and friends of Fuifuikula ‘O Lofakaitamaki ‘Ealelei kissed his coffin in a heartbreaking service today in Tongatapu after it arrived from New Zealand.

The deceased’s body was placed in a closed coffin before it arrived in Tonga.

‘Ealelei, 36, died in his sleep in Hastings from heart attack. Also known as Munilaiti ‘Ealelei, he was in New Zealand as part of a group of Tongans who worked under the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) programme in Hawkes Bay.

Those who spoke during his service this morning described their heartbreak at not being able to kiss him goodbye.

His body was placed in a closed coffin before it was flown to Tonga on Wednesday. The family were not allowed to open it.

This meant they would have only been allowed to view, touch and kiss his casket.

A spokesperson told Kaniva News this was part of the government’s strict rules in an attempt to continue to keep Tonga Covid-19 free.

The emotional farewell was led by a church minister and it was livestreamed on Facebook.

In the clip, shared to Facebook by Broadcom Broadcasting, ‘Ealelei’s mother and wife can be seen touching and kissing his coffin while lamenting his loss.

His young children can be seen carried to the coffin by some of the mourners before they were told to watch before kissing it.

As Kaniva News reported last week, the deceased’s family were able to watch ‘Ealelei’s body via video link shortly after his death.

The livestream video was organised by Tongan RSE workers in Hastings.


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