Haunted By Tragedy As Over 300 New Zealanders Die

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Six people. A police officer, a student. A firefighter and a new grandmother. A proud Otara mum. A paramedic.

Apart from two, they don’t know each other. They shouldn’t share anything more than an appreciation of an All Blacks triumph or a sunny Saturday.

They share something much worse – the pain of the loss of Lovey Taimani.

The 22-year-old Onehunga student was the first of 307 people to die on our roads this year. As thousands of New Zealanders hit the roads for their holidays and police plead for people to stay safe, Cherie Howie of New Zealand Herald traces the profound impact Lovey’s life and death had on six people forever linked by a young woman’s death.

Almost a full turn of the calendar has passed since her young life ended on the unforgiving bitumen of the Southern Motorway. Three-hundred-and-sixty days where loss is measured not only in the absence of a vibrant young woman, but in the memories that linger long after she is gone.

New Year’s Day is meant to be a day of fresh starts, or at least the promise of a fresh start. There was no fresh start for Lovey. January 1, 2015, was the end.

The sun was just up when she was propelled from the seven-seat people mover she was a passenger in, her seatbelt of no use when the force of the impact sent her flying through the back window. Boyfriend Tu’atalatau Kaivelata, at her side in the back seat, had been tossed from the out-of-control vehicle moments before.

Four of the seven friends in the car, including Kaivelata, received minor injuries in the crash near the East Tamaki offramp. Taimani died in an ambulance at the scene.

Read the feature in New Zealand Herald.

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