NZ bus company pleads guilty over crash that killed Tongans

The bus was carrying members of a school brass band that was on a four-week fundraising tour from Tonga.

The band was on its way to Gisborne to perform at a church on Christmas Day, when the bus plunged down a steep bank.

Three people were killed and many others were injured.

The crash killed 11-year-old Sione Taumololo and a 33-year-old Talita Fifita.

Leotisia Malakai, 55, died later from her injuries at Waikato Hospital.

NZ bus company charged over crash which killed 3 Tongans

One of its buses was carrying 53 members of the brass band from Mailefihi Siuʻilikutapu College in Tonga, when it plunged down an embankment at State Highway 2, south of Gisborne.

It is believed the bus went through a barrier at Wharerata and crashed down the bank about 10.30pm on 24 December, 2016.

The band had been touring New Zealand to raise funds for the college’s 70th anniversary.

New Zealand Herald reports the charges were laid by WorkSafe at the Waitakere District Court on 21 December 2017, just days before the one-year anniversary of the crash.

Gisborne crash driver pleads not guilty to death, injury, charges

Talakai Aholelei, 65, appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

Kaniva News reports he was charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and 27 charges of careless driving causing injury.

Aholelei, who was represented by Nalesoni Tupou, was remanded to appear in the Waitakere District Court on July 25.

A large contingent of the Tongan community were at court today.

Aholelei was driving a bus carrying members of the Mailefihi Siu’ilikutapu College brass, which was raising money for the Tongan school’s 70th anniversary.

Fundraiser aims to get bus crash survivors home to Tonga

Tongan citizens Sione Taumalolo, 11, and Talita Moimoi, 33 died when the bus went off the road near Gisborne.

Newstalk ZB reports many more were injured. 

The bus was carrying students and teachers from a Tongan college, who were here to perform a church concert on Christmas Day. There were 53 people onboard.

Local woman Kristina Williams, who was one of the first people on the scene, said she started the page in an effort to help.