Karakia today for three contractors killed at Pikowai

By Kereama Wright
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A prayer has been conducted at the site where three employees of contracting firm Higgins were killed in a crash last month.

Around 200 family members of Haki Hiha, David Eparaima and Soul Raroa, along with Higgins staff, gathered at the site on State Highway 2 at Pikowai near Matatā for a karakia to cleanse the area.

The three men, of Te Arawa descent, have been remembered as loving, loyal, cheeky and hard working.

A group of tohunga, Māori priests were called in to conduct the karakia, including Anaha Hiini of Te Arawa and Pouroto Ngaropo of Mataatua.

More than 200 people gather for the karakia today. Source: Te Ao Māori News

At the time of the incident last month, Hiha, Eparaima and Raroa were clearing a culvert by the side of the road when they were hit by a truck. Two other people were also injured.

The crash, involving four trucks, was described as one of the worst and "most chaotic" crashes a rescue helicopter pilot had seen in the past nine years.

Earlier this month, Higgins staff held a minute of silence to acknowledge the men's deaths.

A section of the road around the site was also closed down to a single lane and posted under a 30km/hr speed restriction.

Site restrictions were put in place for most of the morning while the formalities were carried out.

Last week, a man was charged in relation to the crash and was expected to appear in Whakatāne District Court on Tuesday.