New year plans die for 'life of the party'

By Chloe Johnson

Samantha Tanuvasa. Photo / Supplied
Samantha Tanuvasa. Photo / Supplied

Samantha Tanuvasa had dreams for the new year. She wanted to travel. She wanted to continue volunteer-ing and she wanted to work in tourism.

But her life of 21 years was cut short early on New Year's Day when she was hit by a truck on Auckland's southwestern motorway.

Just hours before, Samantha had been "the life of the party" at her brother's 21st birthday at the family home in Mangere.

Her mother Oriana said the last time she saw her daughter was while they danced to Spawnbreezie's Don't Let Go.

"She loved her music," Oriana said after burying Samantha at Mangere Lawn Cemetery on Friday. "She was an amazing dancer."

Samantha, a former Auckland Girls' Grammar student, left the 21st to head into town with friends and continue the New Year celebrations. At 5.30am she was killed on the motorway beneath the Walmsley Rd bridge. Friends are saying she fell from the bridge.

Police said the incident was still being investigated and witnesses had not yet been spoken to.

Friend Robert Lefoou Lusa, 18, said he had been playing video games and listening to music with Samantha before she left.

"She was the life of the party," he said. "She never sat down."

Hundreds of friends and family gathered at a family service at the Church of the Latter Day Saints, where they shared stories to celebrate Samantha's life.

Her uncle Que Filiga, 26, described his niece as funny but caring and courageous.

"She was caring and always wanted to help others, never judgmental, wouldn't discriminate against anyone because of their race, age and especially sexual orientation," Filiga said.

She was also a popular party girl who loved getting dolled up for a big night on the town, he said.

Oriana said overwhelming support from the community, including Mangere MP Su'a William Sio, showed Samantha had touched the lives of many people.

"We are so appreciative of the understanding and love over the past week and throughout her life. The family are at peace now she has been returned back to our creator," Filiga said.

- Herald on Sunday

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