Tongan pastor

Item discovered in search for missing Tongan fisherman in NZ

This comes after a blue and white T-shirt was found during the search for a missing Tongan pastor who went missing at a South Canterbury river mouth on December 30.

Lionati Fotofili was reported missing at the mouth of the Ōpihi River after he did not return home from a fishing trip the night before reports Kaniva News.

The family of the 44-year-old father of two are launching their own intensive search party, about more than a week after he was last seen. 

Fisherman missing at South Canterbury river the pastor of Timaru's Church of Tonga

Lionati Fotofili, 44, of Timaru, known as Lio, has been described as a “very loving man’’ with a beautiful singing voice reports Stuff.

Born in Tonga, he is the father of two boys – a 14-year-old and 14-month-old – and his wife and other family members also live in Timaru, family spokesperson Anna Leger said.

Fotofili works at Alliance Smithfield and was ordained as a church minister at the age of 29.

“Lio has been in Timaru for almost 30 years, and he started the branch of the church [of Tonga] here,’’ she said.