Taranaki community devastated after loss of nine-year-old boy 

By Jessica Tyson

Tributes are flowing for nine-year-old Tuwhakararo Hohaia who passed away on Friday in Taranaki.

Tuwhakararo was the son of Tihikura Hohaia and Charissa Waerea. The parents say the whānau is “grief-stricken” after Tuwhakararo passed away as the result of an accident in Pungarehu, South Taranaki.

Members of his whānau and other people within the Taranaki community have left hundreds of messages of love and support for the whānau on Facebook, describing Tuwhakararo as a beautiful, caring, cheeky, loving, smart and charismatic boy.

Rochelle Te Kaho wrote, “Arohanui my beautiful whānau, words cannot express my heartfelt sympathies for you all, to Tihikura and Charissa my heartaches for you both, your beautiful tamariki and my cousins, aunties, I wish I could be there to awhi you during this the saddest of times.

“I know Tuwhakaaroa is nestled in the arms of his koro and all our nannies, that his journey into spirit will be a gentle one with all the aroha of our Tūpuna with him and know they are right there beside you...moe mai ra e tama, your life was a blessing to all.”

Courtney Ngaia wrote, “My dearest cousin. My heart aches to hear that you are no longer with us. I am going to miss you sneaking into nan's house alongside Kingi and your other cousins to watch Ben10. I love you all so much my Hohaia/Waerea whānau.”

In a post on the Hawera Primary School Facebook page, Tuwhakararo’s teacher April Baylis described Tuwhakararo as “the most charismatic, charming, smart and amazing student”. 

“Words cannot describe the loss I am feeling for such a special human being. You will leave a big hole in our hearts Tuwhakararo. I have had the absolute pleasure to teach and get to know you further this year. We will never forget you and that smile and big hugs that would always light up the room.”

Another teacher Rheannah Clarke wrote, “Tuwhakararo I will forever remember you for your loving nature, gorgeous smile and heart-warming hugs. I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to teach you.”

The cause of the accident which took Tuwhakararo's life is unknown to Te Ao.

Police say they were called to the sudden death incident about 5:15pm on Friday.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious and will be referred to the coroner," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Covid-19 lockdown requirements

Tuwhakararo’s parents say the whānau fully supports the Covid-19 lockdown requirements that are currently in place and is following Parihaka's newly established pandemic plan. 

“This means the whānau will be keeping Tuwhakararo at home with them and, apart from one nominated person, they will not be receiving anyone (including whānau) outside of their current whānau bubble at the homestead," Tihikura and Charissa said in a statement provided to Te Ao.

“Please do not go to the house. The whānau greatly appreciate that people may want to drop off kai and other items to support the whānau but they will not be receiving anything, to limit the risk of transmission.” 

Further arrangements are yet to be finalised. The whānau also asks that their privacy be respected at this very sad time.