Vineyard worker dies in Blenheim

21:00, Jul 15 2014

A vineyard worker has died after he suffered a cardiac arrest at the backpackers hostel where he had been living.

Tierata Nawaia, 45, from Kiribati collapsed at Honi-B backpackers in Blenheim on Monday.

The father-of-five came to Blenheim to work on the recognised seasonal employer (RSE) scheme in November and was an employee of Provine.

St John Marlborough territory manager Murray Neal said Nawaia had suffered a cardiac arrest. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate him but he died at the scene.

Honi-B owner Karl Slape said Nawaia had been brought back to the hostel early about 12.30pm by his supervisor after complaining of a headache.

"I spoke to him and he appeared he had the symptoms of the common flu," Slape said. "I told him to get plenty of fluids and get his head down."

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Nawaia collapsed in a corridor near his bedroom just before 3.30pm.

"He was a pleasant, well spoken gentleman. He came with a group of boys from Kiribati and they all got on very well together."

He and his workmates had enjoyed a day out in Kaikoura on Sunday and he had been in good spirits, Slape said.

His best friend Poraing Wainnang said Nawaia was due to return home in August.

"He was a hard worker and a lovely man. He was always looking out for me. He came over to save money for his wife and family. His wife is devastated."

His employer, Provine director Ken Prouting said it was Nawaia's fifth season working in Blenheim.

"He was a great worker and a lovely person. He always had a smile on his face and was a happy-go-lucky person."

An autopsy is being done and a service will be held at St Mary's Catholic church in Blenheim before his body is flown home.

The Marlborough Express