Katikati crash victims return home to Tonga


Four of the five victims of a tragic car accident near Katikati in the Bay of Plenty are on their way home to Tonga.

Father and son, Koli Vaipulu (son) and Sitiveni Vaipulu (father), Halani Fine, Sione Teulaka, and Samuela Taukatelata died just after finishing their shift at the Aongatete Kiwifruit Packhouse, when the car they were in turned into the path of an oncoming logging truck.

None of them survived the impact.

Four of the men were in New Zealand as seasonal workers, supporting family back in Tonga.

The men's bodies are due to land back in Tonga on Friday morning, accompanied by 30 people. Many of their workmates however, will not be on the flight from Auckland.

Instead they'll keep working to help raise money for the men's families back home.

Packhouse manager Clive Excelby says they had an opportunity to pay their respects, when the hearses stopped at the packhouse on their way to Tauranga Airport.

He says it was a small private occasion that meant a lot to those left behind.


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