Seasonal worker dies days before he was due to return home to Samoa

Samoan seasonal worker, Vaetasi Mati who died in a road accident in New Zealand was due to return to home in a few days.

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.

New Zealand Herald reports emergency services were called to the scene at 5pm after reports of a single-vehicle crash.

Mati 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.

"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.

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, as well as being a valued member of their church and village in Vaega, Satupa'itea, Savaii.


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