Mother grieves for Shayna, 18

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
Shayna Kumitau
GONE: Promising golfer Shayna Kumitau was killed in a car crash near Raglan in February.

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A Waikato teen spent Valentines Day baking surprise treats for a friend in Raglan - hours later she was fighting for her life in hospital.

Shayna Kumitau, 18, died in Auckland Hospital early yesterday - four days after a head-on crash at Whatawhata.

Her death has devastated her mother, Sandra Kumitau, who spoke with the Waikato Times about the young woman who was tipped to become a top golfer.

"She was so bubbly, full of life.

"She lived for her golf, loved her family and her friends - she was a really gentle person."

Neither Mrs Kumitau or husband Tom would talk about  the crash that took their daughter from them.

Emergency services were called to the scene on State Highway 23 just before 10pm last Thursday night.

Police say the driver of an eastbound Nissan Bluebird crossed the centreline on State Highway 23 some time before 10pm on Thursday, colliding head-on with the Suzuki Swift in which Shayna was travelling.

The driver of the Suzuki, a 19-year-old Hamilton woman, remains in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital.

Shayna and a group of friends were on their way to Raglan to surprise a friend who was leaving the area.

"They spent all day Thursday making cupcakes, it was meant to be a happy time for them," Mrs Kumitau said.

News of Shayna's death has rocked the Waikato golfing community including New Zealand representative golfer Sarah Bradley.

"I was recently asked to mentor Shayna, which I was really looking forward to - especially since she was also studying at Waikato University and played golf - it was going to be great for us," she said.

News of the crash was particularly harrowing for Ms Bradley, who suffered major trauma in a 2007 car smash.

Waikato Golf Association executive officer Robin Fulton said Shayna had a big future.

"There was no doubt in my mind that she would have made the senior team within the next two years," he told the Times.

St Andrews Golf Club pro Andrew Horan said Shayna had the drive and ambition to go a long way.

"From the age of about 14 she was out at the Ngaruawahia Golf Club with her brother and father practising most nights. She really knew what she wanted."

Shayna was particularly pleased with her recent progression to a nine handicap, he said.

"She shot her best round ever at Ngaruawahia in October last year when she shot a 76 playing a three handicap. She was elated," he said.

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Friend and golfing colleague Fai Tongdethsri first met Shayna at St Colomba's Primary School in Frankton.

"I remember her being quite shy at first, but then as she grew in confidence she became more outgoing... she was timid at first but as she grew in confidence her game took off as well," she said.

Miss Tongdethsri said she was shocked to hear about the crash and devastated to learn of her friend's death.

"The Waikato golfing community is a really tight-knit group and we are just trying to support one another right now," she said.

So too is the Sacred Heart College community which yesterday held a special prayer service in remembrance of their former pupil.

"As a school community, we are deeply saddened to hear of Shayna's tragic death," principal Chris Allen said in a statement yesterday. "At our school Mass [yesterday], we offered prayers for her family."

Shayna was about to start her second year at Waikato University where she was studying psychology and human development.

"She wanted to finish her psychology paper, but long-term she was looking at early childhood education," Mrs Kumitau said.

There were goals on Waikato golf greens as well, including making the Waikato Senior women's team by the end of 2013.

Golf selector and manager Lois Jones said Shayna had captained the Under 21 team for the last two years and was maturing fast.

"She was bubbly, loved pink and sparkly, glittery things ... I will miss her so much - we all will, she was such a credit to her parents," she said.

- Waikato Times

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