Tongan fruit-picker fined for punching a backpacker from Vanuatu

A Tongan fruit-picker was fined $650 for punching a backpacker from Vanuatu in a ‘consensual’ fight in Australia.

Twenty-six-year-old Maka Leohiva Taliauli pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm in Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Monday.

The Daily Mail reported that Maka was fined for fighting outside Childers’ Federal Hotel after drinking with friends on 11 July.

He punched the backpacker in a ‘consensual’ fight after being separated. The victim sustained a cut on his cheek and bruise below the eye from the blow to the right side of his face.

Maka knew the victim and they were living in the same accommodation, which was no longer the case.

Maka had been picking fruit in Australia for four years. His visa was going to expire this month but he cannot return to Tonga due to the closure of borders.

The court heard Maka hoped to come back to Australia after returning to Tonga.

However, Bundaberg Magistrate Andrew Moloney told him he must behave himself.

“We need as many backpackers and workers who are going to pick the fruit as possible (because) we can't find enough, but to stay here and get that good work, you're going to have to behave yourself,” he said.

Maka’s employer appeared before the court and spoke highly of the defendant.

Mr Moloney said Maka was not going to jail but needed to understand what he did was a serious misconduct.

“What makes it serious is you restarted it after it had ended and there are examples in our courts of people being in prison for this kind of stuff because people have come in for a second go.”

A conviction was not recorded.