Heartbroken family and friends of a former Bachelorette contestant who died suddenly this week have paid tribute to their friend, brother and son.
"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of our friend Tavita Antoni Karika.
"On the 29th of April, 2021, Tavita took his last breath - and with that our hearts."
The family released the statement via a Givealittle page that has been set up in a bid to raise funds to return Karika's body home.
The 31-year-old, who was a contestant in the Bachelorette NZ last year, is understood to have died around midnight on Thursday in Wellington.
He worked as an actor, model and personal trainer in Wellington and had also been training to be a barber. He is originally from Christchurch.
A family spokesman on the fundraising page described it as a difficult time for those close to Karika.
"If you had the pleasure of knowing Tavita, you will know just how difficult this is for his family, friends and all who loved him.
"We are wanting to raise as much as we can to help Tavita's family with funeral costs and getting our boy home."
By 8am today, more than $5000 had been raised to help his family.
Many of those donating shared their personal memories of a good friend. Others shared disbelief at the news.
Childhood friend Debra wrote: "Absolutely devastated to hear of Tavita's passing. Known him since I was 6. Used to give me piggyback rides home from school.
"Such a huge loss. Sending all my love to the whānau."
Another said: "Heartbroken my bro. You had such a huge impact on a lot [of] people. Sending all my aroha to you and [your] whānau."
Nicole - or Nikol, as Tavita used to write it, she said - talked of a "special guy" whose presence will be missed.
"You lit up this world," she said.
The family left what appears to be something Karika wrote online at some point.
"For real doe, you gotta dance before the music is over and live before yo life is over. T x [sic]."
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