Closure for family of Japanese tourist who died in Te Urewera hut blaze

By Korōria Taumaunu
Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson, Honoka Tsuchida and her grandfather Kunikatsu Tsuchida.

The family of a Japanese tourist who died in a hut blaze in the former Te Urewera National Park has been able to find closure to his death after visiting the site where he died. 

Katsuya Tsuchida and his fishing guide, New Zealand resident Toshiya Babe, died when the Department of Conservation hut they were sleeping in burnt down in December 2007.

An investigation by Police and the Fire Service found the incident to be the result of a tragic accident where they suspect the fire was caused by a lit candle or gas cooker.  

The officer in charge of the recovery operation and subsequent investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant John Wilson and Murupara Police Constable Rob Hutchins erected a memorial near the site. 

On Boxing Day last year Mr Katsuya’s daughter, Honoka Tsuchida visited the site with Mr Wilson. In a statement to the media she thanked New Zealand Police for the opportunity.

"It was a precious experience that I could finally visit the place where my father died and meet Mr John Wilson who helped and supported us for a long time,” said Ms Tsuchida.

Mr Wilson said returning to the site to take the family was a special moment.

“I feel privileged to have been there and been able to help this family get more of an understanding of what happened to Katsuya,” said Mr Wilson.