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New Zealand police officer dies in Tonga

A Manukau constable has died in Tonga, five days after allegedly being assaulted in a police cell.


Kali Fungavaka

A MANUKAU constable has died in Tonga, five days after allegedly being assaulted in a police cell.

Kali Fungavaka, described as “outstanding” by his employers, died with his family by his side.

He was a recipient of the New Zealand Bravery Medal in 2006.

Mr Fungavaka was arrested for a minor drunkenness offence on Friday evening.

He was placed in a shared cell in Nuku’alofa’s Central Police Station, where he was assaulted by another inmate, Tongan Police have said.

He suffered serious head injuries and was taken to Viola Hospital, where he underwent head surgery.

He never regained consciousness, APNZ reported.

Police prosecutor Mema Latu told the Matangi Tonga Online that Kalisitiane Manu, who was arrested for drunkenness in a public place on Friday night, had been charged with bodily harm of Mr Fungavaka.

“That is the charge at this stage and the investigation of the incident is continuing,” Mr Latu said.

Two Tongan police officers have also been arrested for assaulting Mr Fungavaka.

The investigation into what happened at the bar and in the police cell is being led by Tongan assistant police commissioner Viliami ‘Unga Fa’aoa.

Mr Fungavaka was in Tonga to attend the funeral of his grandfather.

He earned the New Zealand Bravery Medal after helping a woman who had lighter fluid poured on her by her boyfriend and set alight.

Mr Fungavaka put a damp jersey over her and raced to get a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

The 2006 incident inspired him to join the police.

New Zealand police tonight paid tribute to the “outstanding officer”.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said Mr Fungavaka was a reliable officer and a valued member of the police family.

“Kali’s colleagues describe him as quiet and unassuming, very humble and very passionate about policing and making a difference, especially in the Polynesian community.”