Hawke's Bay woman dies on way to help friend

By Alice Lock -
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Big heart: Mereana Fitzgerald who was killed in a car crash last Wednesday night was devoted and dedicated to her son Chassy-Lee, 11. Photograph SUPPLIED
Big heart: Mereana Fitzgerald who was killed in a car crash last Wednesday night was devoted and dedicated to her son Chassy-Lee, 11. Photograph SUPPLIED

Mereana Fitzgerald was on her way to help a friend when the car she was driving slid off the road, killing her.

The 31-year-old was driving towards Te Pohue on State Highway 5 with three passengers when she crashed just after 11.30pm last Wednesday.

Family members described her as someone who had the "biggest heart" and would give anything and everything to everyone.

Her sister Te Moana Fitzgerald said: "The week before her accident she had driven out there [Te Pohue] to deliver a friend an asthma pump, as she didn't want him to hitchhike or go without one. That is the type of person Mereana is, she is such a giver at no cost."

Mereana was a caregiver for those seriously ill, with mental health issues and disabilities.

"She loved to take care of people and wanted to work in an industry where she could help them with any problems they were going through," Te Moana Fitzgerald said.

Another sister, Te Manawanui Fitzgerald, said Mereana also gave her time to care for her family.

"She devoted her life to her son, Chassy-Lee, who she raised by herself, and then she also adopted a son whangai and took full custody of one of our brothers. Nothing was ever too much for her."

Chassy-Lee Fitzgerald, 11, attends Te Awa School and is a keen rugby player and an aspiring taekwondo champion.

"The only reason my sister stayed in Napier was so Chassy could get to Argentina for taekwondo. She was dedicated and devoted to him succeeding."

Mereana was thinking of moving to Auckland but when the chance came up for her son to go to Argentina in two years' time she didn't hesitate to stay in Napier.

Sister Stacey Houkamau said Mereana had also studied beauty therapy and hair dressing at EIT before she went down the mental health route.

The sisters plan to keep Mereana's legacy going and will bond together to make sure Chassy-Lee "flourishes".

"He has so much potential and Mereana has brought him up to be an amazing boy. She was a mother to everyone's children and kids at the school wanted to go back to her house rather than their own, that's how good she is with them," Te Manawanui Fitzgerald said.

The Napier community has pulled together for Mereana. Her family say they have not had to lift a finger.

"Where she lays now has been given to us, her friends have done everything. They are cooking for us and giving back to her what she would have done for them," Te Moana Fitzgerald said.

The funeral is being held today at Western Hills Cemetery from 2pm.

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