One year on, service will commemorate victims of Katikati crash

A ceremony will be held next week to mark the anniversary of the deaths of five Tongan fruit pickers in Katikati last year.

Clive Exelby, manager of the Aongatete Coolstores in Katikati where the young men worked, told Kaniva News this afternoon the ceremony would be held on Wednesday, August 2.

Exelby said they had invited Tongans living in the area to attend.

The event will include a prayer service and speeches from community leaders.

Exelby said that the half-hour service will take place on the site of the accident, which is just outside the entry to the Aongatete Coolstores.

He said they will be erecting a marquee in case it rains but they’re hoping that it would be a fine day.

The service will be attended by the Tongan workers who came back for this season as well as other staff  and the small but growing Tongan community in Katikati are also expected to attend.

The service will be followed by a cup of tea and sandwiches.

The  mother of Halani Fine, Mele, who was driving the car in which the five men died, will be at the ceremony.

His family will unveil a memorial stone next week.

Fine was the only one to be buried in New  Zealand. The rest of the bodies were returned to Tonga.

It is  understood that Ana Bing Fonua from the Tongan Minisry of Internal Affairs will be in Auckland next week and is expected to attend the ceremony.

The five people who died in the crash were Sitiveni Vaipulu, 44, his son Koli Vaipulu, 21, Halani Fine, 29, Sione Teulaka, 21 and Samuela Taukatelata, 28.

Four of them were working for Aongatete Coolstores, while the other was a local resident.

They had just finished their shift when the accident happened.

The car in which they were travelling was involved in a collision with a logging truck.

The driver of the truck was unhurt.

A remembrance service led by Rev Fono ‘Ahio and attended by 500 people was held at the Christian Centre in Katikati two days after the crash.

The main points

  • A ceremony will be held next week to mark the anniversary of the deaths of five Tongan fruit pickers in Katikati last year.
  • Clive Exelby, manager of the Aongatete Pack House in Katikati where the young men worked, told Kaniva News this afternoon the ceremony would be held on Wednesday, August 2.
  • Exelby said they had invited Tongans living in the area to attend.
  • The event will include a prayer service and speeches from community leaders.

For more information 

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

Crash victims honoured; “I am sorry”, Halani’s mother says

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