Heartbroken and stunned friends and family are today mourning the loss of five men tragically killed in a car crash last night.

The five, including a father and son, were leaving their work at Aongatete Coolstores, near Katikati, Bay of Plenty, when their car collided with a southbound logging truck.

The victims have been named as Halani Fine, Koli Vaipulu, Sitiveni Vaipulu, Sione Teulaka, and Samuela Taukatelata.

Read more: Five 'fine young men' killed in horror crash near Tauranga named


The Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today offered his condolences saying the road tragedy would hit families and the extended Tongan community hard.

"This is a tragedy for everyone concerned. My prayers and sympathies are with the families and friends of these five men and we offer any support we can at this difficult time."

Lotu-Iiga said four of the dead were in the country as part of the Recognised Seasonal Workers programme.

"They had been here only a few months and were travelling home from work with another Tongan co-worker."

Tangata Imere Maka wrote: "Sad day for our Tongan community in New Zealand. Five men, brothers, fathers, uncles taken to rest."

Friend Rose Uli: "Each of yous were all blessings to your friends and families. You have touched each and every persons souls at Aongatete packhouse."

Nijocool Dowabobo: "RIP Tongan brothers ... Will never forget all those smile."

Wrote Blair Robertson: "Waking this morning to hear about the tragedy that happened last night in Aongatete, heart breaking news. Koli Vaipulu and Steven you are great friends n koli you were a big brother to Alex. We love you guys n will be in our hearts for ever, to all family and friends our thoughts are with you."

The sister of crash victim Halani Fine posted a moving account of his partings words to her.


Fifi Lea'aetoa said she would always treasure her brother with the "smile so bright".

" Halani, i love you and will always miss you. May you rest in our Heavenly Father's love and peace. The last thing he said to me was 'Sis, i am so proud of you and you know i love you right?'

She credited her brother as the door to finding God posting a picture of him standing outside a large wooden church door.

"His smile so bright I just had to look at this picture to comfort me," she wrote.

My dear brother. Kuoke hola koe ia. He was my door to finding God. His smile so bright i just had to look at this...

Posted by Fi Leaaetoa on Tuesday, 2 August 2016