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Kali - a life robbed

Auckland, New Zealand

I write with regret at receiving the news of fallen hero and family member, Kali Fungavaka. The news is too tragic to comprehend.

Kali, a recipient of the NZ Bravery medal came to bury his grandfather and ended up on his own death bed in a place we all too absently call the Friendly Islands.

Too many times, good men are taken from us too young, too soon. Kali was an exemplary figure. His life shouldn’t have been robbed senselessly.  

Stories are rife on how he died, but we, his family know that his death was preventable and that a grievous crime had been committed. On his last night in Tonga, he was
  approached by police men outside of Reload Bar. The police took him away,
  separated him from his cousin who went out with him and the next thing we 
know he is in critical condition, fighting for his life in a coma in Vaiola.

The responsibility therefore lies with these same policemen who took him. Whether it's lack of training, arrogance or plain stupidity, we cannot place any rational explanation as to why Kali ended up viciously beaten, bruised and in a coma after being taken by the police. Someone has to account for Kali’s life and the caretakers of the law must bear the full brunt of the law too. Our biggest fear and pain is that the police will cover up this
  horrific tragedy and continue as if nothing happened. But something
  life-changing happened.

Kali, a newly wed, father of four beautiful children, brother of three, friend of many, will no longer get up in the morning, put
 on his NZ Police uniform he worked so hard to earn, and continue the life he was entitled to have. He fought so many obstacles to get to where he got - not many young men raised in South Auckland got to where he did.  

What we will miss the most is the infectious smile he greeted people with. But now, Tonga, so-called Friendly Islands, needs to deal with the reality that they are harbouring bigger problems than it imagined. We are not only
  facing an economic crisis in the Kingdom but a crisis of greater proportion. The crisis of impunity, of lives being taken randomly by people in authority who should not be, and the possibility that this will not be the last time a life will be unfairly taken. 

Editor, we mourn for Kali, for what could’ve been, the dreams he had for his wife and children, the aspirations he had as a
  policeman, the milestones he was to have with all of those who love, value
  and appreciate him. We will not forget him and we pray and hope that Tonga will not forget Kali too. And that it will bring some closure to the death
 of one of its own sons. Gone too young, too soon.

Rest in God’s love Kali Fungavaka - you will never be forgotten.

Justice Fonua

Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand


I was involved in a similar incident early this year. While I was in custody, I was attacked with a hunk of wood and luckily I managed to jerk it off the attacker. This corruption is ongoing and need to be addressed. Justice is needed now. Need to ensure that this kind of practice is not part of the system. My heart goes out to the widow and family of this young officer. This incident is not helping with the shaping of trust within the community and visitors to Tonga.