Rotorua teen's death: Haka, tears for blaze victim

By Abigail Hartevelt


Hundreds of people have farewelled popular Western Heights High School student Mihinui Tamiana.

More than 700 people, including students and teachers from her school, gathered at Tunohopu Marae yesterday to say goodbye to the 14-year-old who died in a fire at a Riri St industrial building on Sunday.

Mihinui's casket was covered with photographs and surrounded by flowers. Family and friends sat around the casket at the front of the wharenui during the service.

Ngati Whakaue kaumatua Pihopa Kingi said there had been many tributes that day and the previous night and yesterday's service was about laying Mihinui's body to rest.

"This is a friendly reminder of the tragedy that occurred, for you as you grow and become mature and adults to be careful, to care for yourself and others and consider the best options for you as you grow, because you are going to be leaders of Maoridom and the community," Mr Kingi said.

Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa, who is the moderator for the Presbyterian Church, led the service and referred to several scriptures including, "weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning".

Mihinui's uncle, Peter Tamiana, said Mihinui had a message for her family and friends.

"Don't grieve for me. I've been called by the father. I've been called to go home ... Don't cry for me ... If I left a broken heart it's okay, we will meet again."

Mr Tamiana spoke of people having freedom of choice.

"Our favourite hobby is to point the finger at anyone else. It doesn't work like that ... Whatever choices you make they are yours, nobody else's."

About 100 Western Heights High School students sang He Honore as a tribute to Mihinui.

As the casket was conveyed to the hearse, students and others performed two haka.

Then Mihinui's body was taken to Pukepoto Urupa for burial.

Meanwhile, Rotorua police are continuing their investigation. Detective Senior Sergeant Zane Smith said they were yet to speak to some people, including a male who suffered burns in the fire and was in a stable condition in Waikato Hospital.

A friend of Mihinui said she believed a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the building. However, Mr Smith said yesterday they were yet to speak to anyone who saw any sort of firebomb used: "As of yet, there is no physical evidence that supports a Molotov cocktail being used."

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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