Fiji funeral for motel pool victim

Full of promise: Deepika Kumar (centre) with the Rev Sue Halapua (left) and Archbishop Winston Halapua.
Full of promise: Deepika Kumar (centre) with the Rev Sue Halapua (left) and Archbishop Winston Halapua.

A funeral has been held in Fiji for the young woman who drowned in a Hamilton motel swimming pool.

Representatives of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Australia travelled to Fiji to farewell Deepika Kumar, who died in Waikato Hospital on January 26.

Miss Kumar, 18, was discovered in the Classic Motel's pool in Ulster St by the Rev Sandra Williams, with whom she had attended the Parachute Christian music festival at Mystery Creek Event Centre.

She was cared for by St Christopher's Home in Suva, and had been in New Zealand on holiday since December.

The Rev Jayson Rhodes, a communications adviser for the Anglican Church, was one of about 300 people who attended the funeral at St Christopher's Home.

"One of the big themes that came through at the funeral was that an 18-year-old girl brought people from Australia, New Zealand and the diocese of Polynesia all together."

Mr Rhodes said it was clear from the wide range of speakers that she had made an impact on people's lives.

"There was a sense of thankfulness for her life and for how she had been a role model for the other children at St Christopher's Home."

The 27 children who had lived with her at the orphanage "sung and prayed" around her body, Mr Rhodes said.

Her host parents in New Zealand, Glen and Sandy Williams, also attended.

Miss Kumar had been due to return to Fiji to begin training as a teacher.

Mr Rhodes said she would have started her training yesterday.

New Zealand's high commissioner to Fiji, Mark Ramsden, attended the funeral and spoke of a life from adversity which had achieved so much.

In 2012, Miss Kumar won an essay competition organised by the New Zealand high commission and the Fiji Association in Auckland.

Waikato Times