Police acknowledge the guilty verdicts handed down in the homicide investigation into Meliame Fisi’ihoi’s death.
Mrs Fisi’ihoi was callously murdered in her Māngere home on the night of 15 January 2020 when she answered a knock at her window.
Yesterday, Viliami Iongi, 24, and Falala Iongi, 31, were found guilty of her murder.
Both were also found guilty of reckless discharge of a firearm, as well as wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to a separate incident in December 2019.
Manu Iongi, 22, was also found guilty of the manslaughter of Mrs Fisi’ihoi.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Va’aelua, of Counties Manukau Police, says the Operation Truro team worked tirelessly to put those responsible before the court, with arrests only made in April 2021 some 15 months later.
“It is pleasing to see verdicts handed down after a day of deliberations on the case,” he says.
“I would like to thank the community, particularly Calthorp Close residents, who assisted Police throughout our investigation and provided information to us.
“Their cooperation during the various area canvasses is greatly appreciated.”
Tonga’s Minister of Infrastructure Sevenitiini Toumo’ua has warned the former Minister of Finance Tevita Lavemaau of possible investigation about his role in the former government.
The threat came after Lavemaau accused the Ministry of being slow in building houses for the 2021 tsunami victims.
Lavemaau was the Minister of Finance in the government of Late Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa which launched the TP$450 million roading project. The former PM said it had the biggest budget ever allocated for roading works in Tonga.
The project, which was set to run from 2020 until 2023, attracted a lot of criticism after what appeared to be favouritism and nepotism, including the way how the construction contacts were awarded to close friends and blood relatives of the Cabinet Ministers. Only roads in villages and electorates of the Cabinet Ministers were constructed and repaired.
One of the contractors was offered to fraudster ‘Etuate Lavulavu whose wife Akosita Lavulavu was a minister at Tu’i’onetoa’s Cabinet.
The Tu’i’onetoa government was ousted in last year’s premiership election.
As Kaniva News reported previously, the current Hu’akavameiliku government has dumped the roading project together with other community housing projects.
Hon. Toumo’ua claimed earlier this year that contractors who supplied rocks for Tu’i’onetoa’s government road maintenance had forged records to obtain millions of pa’anga each month.
Hon. Toumo’ua claimed that records of loads carried under the roading contract were falsified to obtain TP$1 million in one month.
He alleged that trucks transporting rocks for the roading site used two different registration plate numbers.
He said TP$18 million of taxpayers’ had already been paid. He described this as “imprudent.”
Last night Hon. Toumo’ua launched another attack against the unfinished roading project and other related schemes by telling Former Minister Tevita Lavemaau he should be arrested and investigated.
He said Lavemaau should be investigated for several contracts he was involved with, but did not give further details.
The Minister also questioned Lavemaau about contracts he claimed involved ‘Etuate Lavulavu. He also questioned Lavemaau about a project in which an impact crusher appeared to have been given to his constituency. He also asked Lavemaau about a voucher which he claimed was paid for a service by a truck he owned.
“What about the ($12 million) vessel which could not travel to Ha’apai and Vava’u”, Hon. Toumo’ua asked in Tongan of Lavemaau.
The sudden angry outburst from the Minister of Infrastructure on Facebook last night appeared to have been triggered by a comment by Lavemaau criticising the Ministry over its poor handling of the new housing projects for the 2021 tsunami victims.
The post in question on the Ministry’s Facebook page said 28 houses were meant to be built at Nomuka, but only 12 had been built. It said the Ministry planned to finish three more houses before the end of this year and the remainder would be completed by next year.
In response, Lavemaau wrote under the comment section that he felt for the pitiful state of the people in the outer islands who were victims of the tsunami nearly two years after the tragedy and construction had yet to be completed.
“What is your problem MOI”, Lavemaau asked of the Ministry of Infrastructure.
He said the funds had long been in the Treasury for the work.
“It is about time for a commission to investigate the work you are doing,” he said.
A Ministry of Infrastructure on-line administrator told Lavemaau off.
“Tevita Lavemaau you should be the one to be arrested and investigated first to find out the country’s money, your contracts”, it said in Tongan.
“How about Lavulavu’s road construction contract?
“How about the impact crusher for ‘Eua?
“How about the voucher which was paid for your truck?
“How about the $12M for the vessel which could not travel to Ha’apai and Vava’u?”
Lavemaau told the administrator to come clean and show his true identity.
In response, the admin said he was the Minister of Infrastructure Sevenitiini Toumo’ua.
In Tongan he wrote: “ Ko au Sevenitiini Toumo’ua”.
Some policies brought in by the new government are taking New Zealand backwards, according to Labour leader Chris Hipkins.
Speaking to Breakfast this morning, the former prime minister said a lot of what the government is doing “should have been left in the ’60s”.
“Things like the abolition of the Māori Health Authority, which is designed to give Māori greater health determination when it comes to their healthcare, the abolition of that is a massive step backwards.
“I think they’re going backwards on a whole lot of progress that we’ve made across successive governments, including National governments, over the past three or four decades. I think it really is taking New Zealand backwards.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in our approach to Māori issues as a country during my lifetime, and I think it’s a shame that for the first time we’re seeing a government that’s actively trying to take things backwards in that area.”
It comes after protesters angered by what they believe the new government’s policies will mean for Māori took to the streets this morning. It came as MPs for the 54th Parliament were sworn in.
Hipkins said protests are a “legitimate” part of democracy, “just as farmers are entitled to block the roads with their tractors when they’re unhappy, Māori were fully entitled to protests yesterday as well, I think we should celebrate the fact that we live in a democracy where everybody can protest and express their views”.
Asked if “going backwards” is racist policy, Hipkins said: “On a case-by-case basis there are some, I just think they are backwards-looking, they reflect a view of the world that probably should have been ditched in the ’60s”.
Asked what Labour is doing to support Māori, Hipkins said his party has always had a strong relationship with Māori.
“We will continue to speak up on issues, my message to non-Māori New Zealanders is that you have nothing to fear from Māori getting ahead and us dealing with some of these historical inequities that have been really unfair, really discriminatory.
“We all stand to gain from seeing Māori thrive and flourish in New Zealand,” Hipkins said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon called the criticism surrounding the new government “unfair”.
“I think it’s pretty unfair to be honest. I think the reality is we’ve been in government for a week, we are going to get going and we are going to get things done for Māori and non-Maori, and that’s what our focus is going to be.
“As I’ve said, we are a government which has been here for a week, we are here to deliver for New Zealanders, for all New Zealanders, that’s up to them to choose the language they want to use but I think it is entirely inappropriate.”
He also said he has had “constructive sessions” with iwi leaders to “work together” in improving outcomes for Māori.
A 24-year-old man accused of murder after a shooting on Auckland’s Queen St in August has pleaded not guilty this morning.
Interim name suppression for Dariush Talagi lapsed, Justice Matthew Downs said today at Auckland High Court.
The incident saw two people shot — one in the head and one in the abdomen — after a fight on August 3. One of the men, Sione Tuuholoaki, 26, died in hospital on August 4.
Talagi handed himself in at Auckland Central Police station on November 16, allegedly after more than 100 days on the run.
A 23-year-old woman accused of being Talagi’s accomplice also faces charges over the incident and a 32-year-old associate of Talagi was arrested on August 16 in connection to the shooting, charged with unlawful possession of ammunition.
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Bolton said when Talagi handed himself in that the investigation into the shooting remained ongoing, and wasn’t ruling out further charges,
Domestic rainwater tanks in Tonga are often contaminated and the water can be unsafe to drink.
Matangi Tonga reports that is the finding of a recent study which showed that if tanks are not managed and cleaned regularly the water is often contaminated with E.coli.
The study was compiled by the Ministries of Health and Lands and Natural Resources with the aid of the Asian Development Bank.
Results have shown that sanitation and hygiene practices must improve with the study making clear that the only houses with tank water free of E. coli were those that had been disinfected as part of post-disaster activities in 2022.
The Tonga government has issued its “Guide to Safe Rainwater Harvesting in Tonga”, outlining the best practices for people to ensure their water is free of E.coli.
The guide is available in the Tongan language.
Disinfection tablets that residents can put in the tanks are also available from the Ministry of Health.
Urban cable cars could provide cheaper, cleaner and faster mass transport solutions for New Zealand cities, according to a new report commissioned by an aerial lift manufacturer.
Doppelmayr New Zealand chief executive Garreth Hayman told Nine to Noon the analysis by transport planning and engineering specialists Abley identified 20 potential gondola locations nationwide, with Auckland and Wellington its immediate focus.
“You’re up at that higher level, it’s comfortable, it’s fast and it’s on time. It doesn’t get impacted by what’s going on below.”
One of the company’s systems in Sentosa City in Singapore. Photo: Supplied / Doppelmayr New Zealand
Three of the transport links the company intended to pursue would connect the Auckland and Wellington airports with suburbs that do not have strong existing public transport options, he said.
The sites considered in Auckland and Wellington would save passengers up to 29 minutes travel time, compared with existing public transport systems, and had capacity to transport up to 6000 people an hour between main transport links and suburbs.
Garreth Hayman Photo: Supplied / Doppelmayr New Zealand
“We know these solutions work because we have seen them in action in large international cities – where they complement existing transport networks and are incorporated into existing buildings, underground stations, airports and housing developments.”
The report had just received “a warm reception” from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, he said.
Doppelmayr New Zealand was open to working with government and council planning and transport agencies and was also seeking private/public financing or equity agreements.
Unlike rail-based systems, cable cars could be installed “with a minimum of disruption and in a shorter period”.
“Cost is one of the biggest driving factors, around a third of the cost of light rail, or even rapid bus solutions,” Hayman said.
“There’s a system that’s currently under construction in Paris, due to open in 2025, and that’s costing around $50 million per kilometre. We think that’s a good example of what the costs would be in New Zealand.”