Dozens of Tongan seasonal workers in Hawkes Bay were joined by the late Siosifa Havili’s close family members in a moving and emotional vigil and family service for the deceased in Hastings last night.
The service was attended by about 80 Tongan seasonal workers and members of the growing Tongan community in Hastings and surrounds.
Siosifa, aged 46, was in New Zealand as a seasonal worker but died of a heart attack earlier this week, a month and a half following a routine heart operation in Wellington Hospital.
Siosifa’s eldest brother, Tavite Havili flew over from Australia and was joined by his sister Mrs Lotolua Sharkey and her daughter Vika, who live in Auckland before heading down to Hastings.
Also attending were senior management and staff of employers of Thornhill Horticultural Contracting Ltd and Mr Apple Ltd, who employed Siosifa for many years.
Mr Sefita Hao’uli and Mr Tevita Niulata who look after the seasonal workers from Tonga while they’re in New Zealand were also at the service.
Mr Alistair Jamieson, who is the seasonal labour manager for Mr Apple gave a warm and tearful tribute and spoke of a group leader who was a valued employee for New Zealand’s largest apple exporter.
Thornhill Contracting owner also acknowledged Siosifa’s services on behalf of the company and his staff.
In representing the New Zealand government, Immigration New Zealand Pacific labour and skills manager George Rarere referred to his recent visit to Tonga where he met with Prime Minister, Mr Akilisi Pohiva who gave an undertaking that Tonga is obliged to send a senior government official to accompany the deceased home and he understood that this will be standard practice.
Siosifa came to New Zealand in February and worked for Mr Apple before he moved to Thornhill Contracting company on a joint ATR in May.
He was the leader of a group of 12 workers, most of whom are from Ma’ufanga
Arrangements have been made to repatriate Siosifa on Thursday for burial in Tonga next weekend.
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