The Bay of Plenty rugby league player who sustained a critical brain injury while playing has died in hospital days after the incident.
Pāpāmoa Bulldogs senior player Tere Livingstone was severely injured during a game at Mitchell Park in Ōtūmoetai, Tauranga on June 10. He has since died, with his partner Chloe Withrington posting to social media that she was trying to be strong for their son.
“[I’ll] tell him every day that he had the most loving daddy in the world,” she posted to Facebook.
“Our home will be so empty without your cheerful laughter, too-long yarns, delicious cooking, smelly feet, dad jokes, meke gifts and those bear hugs that made all my problems melt away,” she said.
“It’s hard to understand how you can be so sure that someone is ‘the one’, your person, your soulmate, only to have them ripped from you so soon.”
Withrington said Tere hated wearing black and asked mourners to wear bright colours to his tangi to represent his “sunshine personality”.
NZ Rugby League Union said it was investigating the “tragic incident”.
The club’s widely-shared post said: “For those that may or may not know. Our brother Tere Livingston was critically injured [in Saturday’s] game.”
It said he suffered “a major brain injury”.
“After receiving a scan and surgery he has been putting up a fight for the past few days, however, we’ve received the devastating news that Tere won’t recover.
“The Bulldogs will be travelling to Waikato Hospital on Wednesday and we will not be playing this weekend in Rotorua.
“Tere’s partner and their beautiful 19-month-old baby boy will be deeply impacted by these circumstances.”
A New Zealand Rugby League Union spokesperson confirmed a full investigation into the incident was underway and said they were “deeply saddened.”
“NZRL won’t provide details on the incident at this stage; however, a full investigation is underway. Our thoughts are with the Livingstone whānau, Coastline District & Papamoa Bulldogs community.”
Both messages from his partner and the club described Livingstone as an “amazing man” on and off the field, who had a fun-loving nature and a “profound” effect on others.
“He lights up every room with his cheeky smile and is always the first one to bring everyone together, second to none with aftermatch salads and always generous with his full chilly bin.
“The community of people who love him will feel his loss immensely.”
The post said Livingstone’s skillset and knowledge made him a great player.
“On the field, he played big minutes in any position, defending hard and playmaking like a half.”
The club encouraged people to donate, if they could, to help Livingstone’s whānau, partner and son.
Livingstone’s partner, Chloe Withrington, also posted a heart-wrenching public message on her Facebook saying the family was “overwhelmed” with the support they had received.
She encouraged people to keep sharing memories, messages and photos.
She thanked Lisa Constance for setting up the Givealittle page, those who had donated, friends and family who had visited, Papamoa Bulldogs Rugby League and Sports Club for their support, and her partner’s whānau for “accepting me as one of your own, and wrapping me with so much love and support”.
“I am utterly broken, torn in two. You were the most generous, warm-hearted person on this earth. The most doting father to our son. You taught me so much, and no one will ever come close to you.
“Tere Livingstone I will miss you every minute for the rest of my life.”
“We know many of you want to say your final goodbyes, and will share details as soon as we can.”