Gold Coast mourns Carol Waitohi

By Mātai Rangi Smith
  • Australia

It’s now been one week since the sudden death of Carol Waitohi. Earlier this week, the immediate family learned from the coroner’s report that she died as a result of suffering an aneurysm. Yesterday her closest friends and family gathered for her final farewell and Maori Television were the only media given the blessing by the family to film the proceedings.

For two nights, the Neng Bull rugby clubrooms has been a marae where the body of Carol Waitohi has lay in state.

Yesterday afternoon, she was taken to the Parkview Chapel in the Gold Coast where her final prayers were conducted.

Carol’s uncle Hohepa Manekomare from Ngati Mahuta humbly welcomed her guests, “I’d like to thank everyone who has come here to honour my niece today. It’s just overwhelming to see so many people here to acknowledge her passing.

Once inside, family members began to reflect.

“She was a workaholic.  Very much a workaholic, a role model for most Maori. Where I come from, she was our leader, our rangatira of our family, she was our pin that kept us altogether,” says Michael Kahui (nephew).

Her cousin Ian Wardrop says she was closer than a cousin, “I can call her my sister, but she’s more than a sister to us. More than a cousin, more than an Aunty and really, really close um, it hurts.”

“I thank you all her friends for coming, throughout the tangi, it’s overwhelming, really overwhelming.  That she’s touched so many of yous,” says Terry Waitohi no Ngāti Kuri.

Even though it was a sad occasion, there was also a bit of humour as well.

“I tell you what Carol, when we join you upstairs, you’ll be not steering my waka. I’ll be steering and watching you,” says Wardrop.

“Carol Waitohi nee Montgomery, was born in a place called Huntly. But but but she is a true Te Kauwhata girl I must say. Nothing wrong with Huntly but TK’s way better,” says Kahui.

But once the curtains were closed, tears once again began to fall.

Fellow paddler and DACG Club President, Karen Boynton says, “She’s leaving a big hole in the club, but we’ll get over it, but we won’t forget her.”

“Go to the place where our people rest but are never forgotten.  My niece, rest in the arms of our creator,” says Mr Manekomare.

At this time, the family are yet to decide when they will take Carols ashes back to New Zealand to be buried at her final resting place in Rangiriri.

So as to enable all those family and close friends back home to shed tears for her just like her son Jerome.

Carol’s son Jerome had these last words to say, “Mum, you made us who we are today, you made us believe in ourselves. You have instilled in us a fighting spirit. And we will hold you in our hearts forever.”

Thus allowing her family and close friend back home to shed tears for her as well, just like her son Jerome.

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