Young men's deaths mourned

NICOLA BRENNAN-TUPARA
Last updated 05:00 05/01/2013

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A morning of tragedy has left two South Waikato families mourning the loss of three young men killed on opposite sides of Australia on New Year's Day.

Within hours of celebrating New Year's Eve, former South Waikato men Tosh Kupa, 17, and Trydin Te Aonui, 19, were dead - as was Mr Te Aonui's cousin Lance Hirawani, 28, who was visiting from New Zealand.

Their families are now preparing to bring their bodies back to Putaruru and Tokoroa for burial.

Tosh was killed as he walked home after celebrating New Year's Eve with friends on the Rockingham foreshore, in Perth.

His body was found on the side of the road after he was hit by a passing car and apparently left for dead.

Some passing young men found him and tried to help - but he died soon after.

The owner of the car initially told police his car had been stolen and he had not been driving, but he has since been charged with failing to stop, failing to report an accident and creating a false belief.

The way in which Tosh was killed has left his family and friends furious, with many on a Facebook page set up in his memory calling for the driver to rot in jail.

Last night Tosh's Auckland-based grandmother, Georgina Kupa, told the Times that Tosh, who grew up in Tokoroa, moved to Perth with his family, including three brothers and a sister, in January 2007.

His body was expected to return to New Zealand next week. He would be buried at Whakaaratamaiti Marae in Putaruru.

She said Tosh was a unique child - a "gentle giant".

Just hours before Tosh's death, in Queensland, cousins Mr Te Aonui and Mr Hirawani were killed after the car they were passengers in crashed at speed in Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane.

The driver, an 18- year-old cousin of the dead men, was taken to hospital with severe head injuries. An appeal has been launched to raise funds to bring both of their bodies home to Tokoroa.

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- Waikato Times

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