Selesele Vaetasi Mati Asiata was among a group of seasonal workers due to return to their homeland, Samoa, in a few days when tragedy struck.
The 36-year-old has been identified as the man who died in a crash on State Highway 2 near the Sandhurst Drive onramp and Maunganui Rd, in the Bay of Plenty, on Sunday.
Emergency services were called to the scene at 5pm after reports of a single-vehicle crash.
Asiata was a passenger in the vehicle, which police have confirmed was a seven-seater.
Two others in the van suffered moderate to serious injuries and were taken to Tauranga Hospital for treatment. The other four people were medically checked but were not seriously injured, police said.
The young father-of-one, who had been living in Tauranga, had worked in New Zealand for three years for one of the country's most well-known apple export businesses, Mr Apple NZ.
He had been due to return to Samoa - alongside other seasonal workers - on Friday, after an earlier flight last month had to be rescheduled due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
A spokeswoman for Asiata's employer, Mr Apple, paid tribute to a worker who was well respected among his peers.
A respected teammate and leader
"He has worked with us over the past four seasons and was a very respected and liked member of the team, with a very good character and showed strong leadership skills," she said.
"Our thoughts are very much with his family at the moment."
Most recently, Asiata had been working with a section of their franchise dubbed Seeka, as part of a joint venture and application to recruit set-up.
His employer has set up a Givealittle page to help raise funds for Asiata's wife and toddler.
The page reveals that it had been his last day of work for the season when the crash happened.
Members of that team and staff who knew Asiata are now being supported by the company.
"A Mr Apple crew is travelling up to the Bay of Plenty to further support Seeka and Vaetasi's team through this tragic time," the spokeswoman said.
Friends and family of the young man have paid tribute to a devoted husband and father to wife Lucy and his 1-year-old daughter, Tasi Charity, as well as being a valued member of their church and village in Vaega, Satupa'itea, Savaii.
In a video profiling Pacific Island seasonal workers in April, Asiata tells Seki Works about the difficulties of being away from his family while working overseas, but the need to do so to support his young family and his parents.
Speaking in Samoan, he says it had been a dream of his to come overseas to help support his family back home and that he regarded it as a blessing from God when he got a job here.
One thing he had managed to do was save enough money to build his family a new home in Samoa last year.
Although difficult, he prioritised the need to serve his family; quoting the Samoan proverb "o le ala i le pule o le tautua" - the path to leadership is through service.
He also described the family unit he had found in the other overseas seasonal workers who he worked beside in the orchard fields.
"I miss the fellowship with my family, parents, wife and daughter. I miss them, but I feel at this time, in this job - even though we come from different places, we have become a family here," Asiata says in the video.
"We are brothers and we talk and remember our families back home."
A 35-year-old man has since been charged with careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing death, police confirmed.
He is due to appear in the Tauranga District Court tomorrow.
Police have not released details about the circumstances of the crash - only to say that inquiries are still ongoing.
Authorities are, however, appealing for any witnesses to come forward or to contact officers immediately.
• Can you help? Anyone who witnessed the crash or saw the vehicle involved shortly before the crash is asked to phone Police on 105