January 28, 2023

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Victim’s police officer son supported by Fijian and New Zealand colleagues

Constable Epineri Tunidau has received an outpouring of support from his colleagues at both the Fiji and New Zealand Police forces.

The Fijian police force paid their respects today for their colleague whose mum was the woman fatally stabbed in Christchurch.

Laisa Maraia Waka Tunidau, in her 50s, was fatally stabbed in broad daylight metres away from her home in the suburb of Sockburn last weekend.

One of her sons, Epineri Tunidau, is a constable at the Sigatoka Police Station in Fiji.

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Today he was presented with their reguregu (akin to a Māori tangi) by the Fijian and New Zealand police in Fiji.

In a post on Facebook, the Fijian police said after learning that Mrs Tinidau’s son is a member of the police force, they initiated their own support systems “including fast-tracking the arrest of the perpetrator”, facilitating pathological services, and ensuring her body receives priority in repatriating it back to Fiji, her final resting place.

New Zealand Police senior liaison officer (Pacific) Superintendent Glyn Rowland accompanied the Fijian police delegation led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Sakeo Ganivatu to Nabiitu Village, Nakelo, Tailevu to present the joint reguregu on behalf of both nations.

The Fijian Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, has also directed all necessary support to be provided to Epineri Tunidau, including the services of a psychologist.

A funeral service was held last Thursday in Christchurch for Mrs Tunidau, a mother of four

Friends, family and workmates gathered to sing hymns and say their final farewells before her body left for Fiji that same day.

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A representative from a retirement village in Ilam, where Mrs Tunidau worked as a cleaner, spoke at the service.

They said colleagues and residents alike had shared stories about her over the past few days.

“[She was] quiet, friendly, kind, respectful, grateful and always, always smiling,” the staffer said.

A Givealittle page was also set up in her family’s honour, which has now collected more than $68,000.

A 37-year-old man has been charged with murdering Mrs Tunidau and was known to police.

The man was receiving mental health care from Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) and a full review has been launched by the CDHB.

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said the alleged murder was “a horrific, traumatic and random attack on an innocent person who was simply making her way home from work”.