Whanganui City College head boy Eruera Heitia-Ponga committed suicide, a coroner has found.

The popular and well-respected student was found dead at an address in Whanganui on November 4, 2014.

This week coroner Carla na Nagara released the findings of an inquest held in July 2016. She ruled that the 17-year-old's death was self-inflicted.

Other details of the report are suppressed under the Coroners Act 2006.


Following his death, Wanganui City College principal Peter Kaua wrote a moving tribute.

"From the day he enrolled, Eru forged his path at Wanganui City College often taking on leadership roles, active member of the student council, waka ama, and anything else that was going.

"His job was to take up the many challenges that secondary school had to offer and he did that 'boots and all'.

"Eruera came from a small school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Atihaunui a Paparangi, where passion for his reo and tikanga was nurtured.

"Eru was also prepared to look after people, especially the younger ones, and this didn't change when he came to City College.

"He was a larger than life character who made people feel welcome and was always kind and respectful."

Mr Kaua said Eru's presence grew during his time at the college, particularly in the field of public speaking.

"Eru made an impression on those around him - he could captivate an audience in te reo as well as in English.

"He was the master of improvisation and had a real presence on a stage.

Mr Kaua said Eru was focused on "giving back" when he finished school and he had his future planned.

"He was going to university to train to be a secondary school te reo Maori teacher, and was very close to achieving NCEA level 3 and University Entrance.

"We all miss Eruera, and his influence on us all was huge.

"He will always be remembered for his manaaki for others, his leadership and, above all, his friendship."

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.