Tauranga family mourns teenager's sudden death

By Anna Ferrick -
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A Tauranga family is mourning the loss of a teenager who died suddenly from a severe asthma attack at school.

Hundreds of people attended a memorial service yesterday afternoon to farewell 17-year-old Wiremu Rawiri, a student at Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay, who died after suffering an asthma attack on Monday.

Te Aute College's acting principal Bill Adams confirmed the Year 12 student collapsed in the hostel on Monday morning and could not be revived by paramedics called to the scene.

Wiremu's uncle, Rick Tukaokao, said the family had travelled from Tauranga to Central Hawke's Bay after hearing the news.

He said following the memorial service Wiremu's body would be taken to Tauranga to be buried at his "mother's wishes".

Mr Tukaokao said the family was being as strong as they could in the situation.

He wanted to thank Te Aute College and Wiremu's friends and family who had travelled to be at the service.

"I want to thank Te Aute College for the help and support they have shown in the last couple of days ..."

Mr Tukaokao was not sure whether his nephew was into art or sport or music but said "he must be into something based on how many friends he's got here".

Students and staff travelled from the school to Waipukurau for the 4.30pm service.

The service was also attended by students from other schools.

Mr Adams said on Monday morning Wiremu had notified hostel staff that he had a serious asthma attack and an ambulance was called.

However, he collapsed before the ambulance reached the school. Paramedics worked on him for 45 minutes but were unable to resuscitate him.

He said Wiremu was part of a strong family who were great supporters of the school.

"They and the rest of the school are devastated by this.

"He is a lovely boy with lots of friends at every level of the school.

"He has two young brothers at Te Aute College."

School Commissioner Elizabeth Ellis asked for privacy as the school was dealing with losing "a terrific young man".

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