Crash vic­tims come home

Quiet time for po­lice


A morn­ing of tragedy has left two South Waikato fam­i­lies mourn­ing the loss of three young men killed on op­po­site sides of Aus­tralia on New Year’s Day.

Within hours of cel­e­brat­ing New Year’s Eve, former South Waikato men Tosh Kupa, 17, and Try­din Te Aonui, 19, were dead – as was Mr Te Aonui’s cousin Lance Hi­rawani, 28, who was vis­it­ing from New Zealand.

Tosh was killed as he walked home af­ter cel­e­brat­ing New Year’s Eve with friends on the Rock­ing­ham fore­shore, in Perth.

His body was found on the side of the road af­ter he was hit by a pass­ing car and ap­par­ently left for dead. Some pass­ing young men found him and tried to help, but he died soon af­ter.

The owner of the car ini­tially told po­lice his car had been stolen and he had not been driv­ing, but he has since been charged with fail­ing to stop, fail­ing to report an ac­ci­dent and cre­at­ing a false be­lief.

Tosh’s Auck­land-based grand­mother, Ge­orgina Kupa, said that Tosh, who grew up in Toko­roa, moved to Perth with his fam­ily, in­clud­ing three brothers and a sis­ter, in Jan­uary 2007.

She said Tosh was a unique child – a ‘‘gen­tle gi­ant’’.

Tosh’s body is ex­pected to be re­turned to New Zealand this week. He will be buried at Whakaarata­maiti Marae in Pu­taruru.

Just hours be­fore Tosh’s death, cousins Mr Te Aonui and Mr Hi­rawani were killed af­ter the car they were pas­sen­gers in crashed at speed in Ipswich, south­west of Bris­bane.

The driver, an 18-year-old cousin of the dead men, was taken to hospi­tal with se­vere head in­juries.

The bod­ies of Mr Hi­rawani and Mr Te Aonui have been re­turned to Toko­roa and are ly­ing in state at Papa-o-te-Aroha Marae.

The re­turn of the lo­cal men came af­ter an ap­peal to raise funds to bring their bod­ies home. Act­ing po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Brett Watene said the New Year was a rel­a­tively quiet one for the South Waikato. Po­lice made four ar­rests over the new year pe­riod and at­tended five domestic vi­o­lence-re­lated in­ci­dences.

Mr Watene said that drink driv­ing was well down, with only two drink drivers caught af­ter po­lice car­ried out ex­ten­sive test­ing over the fes­tive pe­riod – more than 200 drivers.

‘‘Although this is a low num­ber and peo­ple seem to be get­ting the mes­sage, this is still two too many drunk drivers on our roads,’’ Mr Watene said.

Dur­ing the hol­i­day road toll pe­riod there were zero fa­tal­i­ties on South Waikato roads.

Po­lice also vis­ited lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments through­out the district and were pleased that peo­ple were drink­ing re­spon­si­bly and li­cense hold­ers are be­ing re­spon­si­ble hosts.

‘‘We made a num­ber of vis­its to lo­cal es­tab­lish­ments dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son and po­lice would like to con­grat­u­late the lo­cal bar own­ers and pa­trons for be­ing re­spon­si­ble.

Po­lice would also like to thank Whaka­maru Mo­tor­camp campers who were very well be­haved.’’

Mr Watene would also like ru­ral home own­ers to be vig­i­lant and se­cu­rity con­scious, es­pe­cially be­tween milk­ing times, af­ter a spate of ru­ral bur­glar­ies.

PA­TIENT RE­WARDED: Former Toko­roa woman Claire Chap­man’s ac­ci­dent turned into a cel­e­bra­tion at Waikato Hospi­tal’s emer­gency de­part­ment. Mrs Chap­man is pho­tographed with as­so­ciate charge nurse man­ager Anne Kop­pens.

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