Grief as Tongan fatal crash victims’ names including father and son emerge

A father and his son were two of the five Tongan people killed in a horror crash near Tauranga in New Zealand last night.

Sitiveni Vaipulu and his son Koli Vaipulu of Faleloa, Ha’apai and  ‘Āhau in Tongatapu died when the car they were travelling in with three others collided with a southbound logging truck near Katikati.

The three other victims are Halani Fine, Sione Teulaka and Samuela Taukatelata.

Sitiveni’s first cousin Tanya Akosita Tupou told Kaniva News Sitiveni and his son are survived by his wife and mother to their son, ‘Ana with four children.

She said ‘Ana and the rest of the children were staying in ‘Āhau  while Sitiveni and their son Koli were in New Zealand to work through the RSE programme.

RSE Tongan liaison officer in New Zealand Sefita Haoʻuli said the victims were hired by the Aongatete Coolstores  as an option two.

This means four of the victims came to New Zealand on contracts they directly made with Aongatete and not through the kingdom’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The other victim is a local resident.

“But sad to see this nevertheless”, Haoʻuli said.

He said he will travel from Auckland this morning to Katikati to see the victims.

The victims were all workers at Aongatete Coolstores and had just finished their shift before the tragedy struck.

The truck driver was shaken but uninjured.

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