Vineyard worker remembered for generosity

01:38, Jul 21 2014
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
SUDDEN LOSS: Kiribati community members take the body of Tierata Nawaiafrom St Mary’s Catholic church in Blenheim after the funeral service on Saturday morning.

Kiribati-born vineyard worker Tierata Nawaia will always be remembered for his generosity, strong work ethic and a smile that could brighten anyone's day.

His sudden and unexpected death on Monday last week came as a shock to his family, friends and fellow workers. A service was held on Saturday morning at St Mary's Catholic Church in Blenheim to celebrate and remember his life.

His uncle Francis Nawaia travelled from his home in Auckland to attend the service.

He said his nephew was a very kind and generous man who worked hard to provide for his family back in his home village near the Kiribati capital, South Tarawa.

The death of the 45-year-old husband and father of three young children had come as a huge shock to the community.

Those who spoke at the service remembered Nawaia, who had been coming to Marlborough for work since 2011, for his excellent work ethic and ever present smile.


Marlborough Migrant Centre manager Margaret Weston knew Nawaia well.

"He was a really great guy - he was one of the leaders in the Kiribati community in Blenheim.

"He was an example of a good man living a good life," she said.

Nawaia worked for Provine, whose owner Ken Prouting also attended the service and said he deeply admired Nawaia's commitment to his family.

"I'll never forget the big smile on his face the first time I met him - he will be greatly missed. Thank you for those years of service, rest now," he said.

Nawaia was in Marlborough as part of the recognised seasonal employer (RSE) programme and had been in the country since November.

On Monday he had returned to his accommodation at Honi-B backpackers hostel in Blenheim early from work about 12.30pm, complaining of a headache. He was advised to rest and three hours later collapsed in a corridor near his bedroom.

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.

An autopsy was carried out in Nelson before the funeral. His body would be flown back to Kiribati.

The Marlborough Express