Georgina Manuel was 28 when she died in Whangārei Hospital at 4.49am on August 21, 2013, of injuries inflicted by her partner just hours before.

In 2015, Villiami One Fungavaka was convicted of murdering the mother of two, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 17-year non-parole period. He has twice appealed, unsuccessfully, against his conviction.

Viliami Fungavaka at his first appearance in the Whangarei District Court. Photo / File
Viliami Fungavaka at his first appearance in the Whangarei District Court. Photo / File

Georgina was grievously injured when Fungavaka ran her down in his car, twice, in Pukepoto Rd, Kaitaia. Plastic flowers and a cross are still attached to a power pole, which brings some comfort to her family.

For her older sister, Saffron Bates, putting that awful night behind her has not been easy, but five years later she is beginning to "move on".


She arrived in Kaitaia, her old home town, on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of her sister's death, a loss that clearly still causes great pain, tempered with the occasional smile and laugh.

She described her little sister as bright with a zest for life, a woman who lived life to the fullest. She had been a good mum ("soft and kind") to her two children, who were doing well, one in boarding school, the other living with an uncle.

"She was loving, caring, one of those people who would literally do anything for anyone," she said.

She had had her struggles, but was determined to make positive changes in her life. She had been intending to take part in a seminar that she hoped would lead to employment on August 21, the day she died.

Bates had not liked or trusted Fungavaka from the moment she met him, at her mother's home. She had urged her sister to end the relationship, but that advice had not been taken.

Her father had seen what happened in Pukepoto Rd, and he took the news to Bates, who saw her sister at Kaitaia Hospital and was then driven by police to Whangārei when she was transferred by rescue helicopter.

Twice she was phoned from hospital, to be told to hurry, but she didn't get there in time. She was still 20 minutes away when Georgina died.

She did not believe that her father had ever recovered. He had subsequently suffered a stroke, and, she suspected, could not help replaying what happened to his younger daughter in his mind.

There was still some anger — Bates said she would never understand why St John did not respond, when the ambulance station was just metres from where her sister was lying on the road.

She did not believe anyone could have saved Georgina's life, but a St John crew would have brought comfort to those who were doing their best to help her.

But there were also many to thank, including the police and prosecutor, those who tried to save her life, and especially those who gave what comfort they could to Gina when she needed it most.

"I'm sure she would have liked to thank everyone for everything they did for her that night," she said.

But her sister was not entirely lost.

"Everyone has their own memories of her, and if we don't lose those memories then she still lives among us," she said.

"She's still here with us. He took her away, but he can't take our memories of her from us.

"We do take things for granted though. We think there will always be plenty of time. We think that what we have will always be there, but it isn't. You don't know what's going to happen."

Bates returns to her home in Auckland today, after visiting her sister's grave at Taipa, knowing that she has not been forgotten, and that the little memorial against the power pole in Pukepoto Rd is still there.

"It's nice that it's still there. It shows that people are still thinking of her."