Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Family mourn lost father and son

The coffins of So'saia Paasi and his son arrive at the Sacred Heart Church in Ponsonby. Photo / Natalie Slade
The coffins of So'saia Paasi and his son arrive at the Sacred Heart Church in Ponsonby. Photo / Natalie Slade

Family and friends of the father and son whose bodies were pulled from the Manukau Harbour last week have begun to formally mourn their lost loved ones.

Last night, the first of a series of family Masses was held for father So'saia Paasi and 7-year-old Tio at the family's church in Ponsonby.

The pair died on Sunday last week when their dinghy capsized during a family outing near Mangere Bridge.

Three other members of the family were also on board the dinghy - So'saia Junior Paasi, 2, his brother Komani, 10, and cousin Tom Paasi, 9.

The survivors were pulled from the water by rescuers, who included several members of the public who jumped into the chilly waters of the harbour when they heard the children screaming.

So'saia Junior is in a stable condition in Auckland's Starship hospital.

His family, originally from Tonga, are holding a service each night this week for their lost loved ones.

At last night's service, the coffins of Mr Paasi and his son were brought on to the church grounds amid wailing and cries from family members.

His eldest daughter, 9-year-old Valingi, clung to her aunt, whose wails told the story of her father - an avid fisherman who died doing something he loved.

Valingi's mother, Latu, who last week thanked fisherman Alan Godfrey for saving So'saia Junior, her youngest child, wept loudly as the coffins of her husband and Tio were removed from the hearses.

The white coffins were each carried by six pallbearers, all clad in the traditional Tongan ta'ovala. They were welcomed into the church by prayers and singing from over 100 mourners.

The burials will be on Saturday.

- NZ Herald

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