The flying fox at AE Fun Park. Photo / via Facebook
The flying fox at AE Fun Park. Photo / via Facebook

Boy orphaned after dad killed in flying fox fall

A DAD killed when he plunged from a flying fox at a Christmas party had lost his wife in a shocking truck accident.

His death has orphaned the couple's six-year-old son who is in the care of extended family.

Devastated family members of 53-year-old Moses Tohu last night told the Herald on Sunday they were shocked the festive celebration had taken such a tragic turn.

Tohu was last night lying at his home in Kawakawa, ahead of a tangi at Mangamuka Marae, near Kaikohe.

Niece Peggy Tohu yesterday paid tribute to her uncle, saying he was a humble man who was left a widower after the tragic death of his wife in 2008 shortly after they had married.

Miriam Matene-Tohu died and baby Tewaipuke was seriously injured when a trailer loaded with posts snapped off a truck and slammed into their vehicle.

Despite the loss of his new wife, Peggy said her uncle pressed ahead, caring for others and doing his best to provide for the now 6-year-old Tewaipuke, who was left with life-long injuries following the crash.

"He just got on with his life," she said. "He couldn't dwell on it. He never cried and stuff.

"Uncle Mo was a real humble, loving man. He could never say no."

Peggy said her uncle worked at Opua-based Ashby Boatbuilders cleaning boats. The company was hosting its Christmas party at the AE Fun Park, near Whangarei.

Police said Tohu was taking part in adventure activities and was flying down the zipline when he fell 5-10m to the ground.

The 500m flying fox is believed to be the country's third largest and reaches speeds of up to 80km/h.

Workmates tried to resuscitate Tohu until paramedics arrived but to no avail. It remained unclear last night whether a medical condition played a part in the death.

WorkSafe New Zealand is investigating.

Brisbane-based niece Patricia Tohu said whanau across the Tasman had been devastated by the death. "He was such a nice man. He would look after anyone."

She said he would not let anyone touch his treasured dreadlocks.

Family members would fly back to New Zealand for the tangi to honour the much-loved relative.

AE Fun Park posted a message of condolence to the family on the company Facebook page: "We would like to pass on our condolences to the family of the person that passed away yesterday."

The park was closed for the day to pay respects and let staff recover from the traumatic event.