The larger-than-life personalities of two men killed in a car crash in Te Puke last weekend were recalled at a memorial service in Te Puke today.
More than 500 people attended the service this afternoon to remember Hamsen Surai, 32, and Barry Tari, 24, who died in the crash early Sunday morning. The pair were passengers in the car.
Surai and Tari were both seasonal workers from Vanuatu, working for Trevelyan's Pack and Cool Ltd in Te Puke during the peak kiwifruit season.
Those at the service included a large contingent from the Vanuatu and other Pacific Island communities, as well as from Trevelyan's, the wider kiwifruit industry and Te Puke residents.
It was Surai's fourth season working for Treveylan's, and Tari's first.
Leading the service, Treveylan's managing director, James Trevelyan, gave a moving tribute for Surai and Tari, acknowledging their achievements, passion for their families and for Vanuatu.
"Hamsen and Barry both came to New Zealand with a dream – to make a difference and a brighter future for their families in Vanuatu. And they were both able to achieve this, even in their young lives.
"They made many friends here in Te Puke, and they will be sorely missed by us all, and by their family and friends in Vanuatu."
Also speaking at the service, orchard owners Barry Roderick and Lyn Govenlock offered some entertaining insights into Tari and Surai, who both worked on their orchard.
"They were both larger than life, extremely likeable and sociable – and regularly offered genuine invitations for people to visit Vanuatu,'' Roderick said.
"You could always hear them laughing and singing, and they were loved and respected.''
"Our 'boys' are treated like they are our own, and our hearts are breaking for ourselves, and for their families, in Vanuatu and here in New Zealand. We will make sure they are never forgotten," Govenlock said.
Grower Wayne Crawford worked with Surai on his orchard for several seasons, forming a close bond.
"He was a huge character and always had a tale to tell. He was one out of the box."
Sanianna Trief, the First Secretary from Vanuatu High Commission, extended the
commission's sympathies to everyone involved, including the families in Vanuatu and for those in Te Puke.
"They have left beautiful memories and touched our lives in many ways. They will be deeply missed."
Trevelyan said the company will continue to support everyone who has been impacted – both in New Zealand and in Vanuatu.
The company has established a Givealittle page at https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/funds-for-the-families-of-hamsen-surai-and-barry. So far $2820 has been donated.
"We have been overwhelmed by the messages and offers of support that we have received from our local community and the kiwifruit industry, as well as the rest of New Zealand and across the Pacific Islands. It is greatly appreciated."