“We really regret it”, Tongan absconders say before being put on flight back home this afternoon

The hunt for two Tongan seasonal workers who absconded from Hastings on Monday has ended this morning with a decision that they have to return to Tonga without delay.

Sitiveni Junior Uasi and Atonio Patua Kulitapa went awol on Monday night in a vehicle belonging to their employer, Mr Apple.

They had been found on Wednesday evening at a home in Manurwewa, South Auckland.

After a meeting at the Tom Pearce Dr’s McDonald, Auckland Airport, at about 1pm today the duo were told that they have to board the Air New Zealand evening flight to Tonga.

The meeting was attended by Mr Apple’s Labour Manager Alistair Jamieson, Tongan government Liaison Officer Sefita Hao’uli, Tongan RSE coordinator in Hawkes Bay Tevita Niulata, four RSE Tongan group leaders, Uasi and Kulitapa.

“I regret it. It was a big mistake I made”, Kulitapa told Kaniva News outside at the McDonald.

Uasi agreed and said he wished they had another chance.

Asked what was the motive for their disappearance Kulitapa said there was nothing it just because they were drunk.

“The opportunity has gone”, he said in Tongan.

Group leader Sifa Havili said they found Kulitapa and Uasi without any incidents but they spent almost two days in searching for the company’s van.

He said the problem was that the duo were  unfamiliar with Auckland and they could not recall the location where the van was abandoned after it ran out of petrol.

He was grateful they finally found the van this morning.

For more information:

Tongan church leaders in NZ search for fruit picker who absconded from airport

PM Pohiva’s visits electrify Hawkes Bay’s Tongan fruit pickers and community

Tongan PM seeks forgiveness from RSE employers after employee fled at airport

After fruit pickers sent home, weeping mother claims daughter was abused


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