Whānau mourn pair who were "each others' hero"

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Australia

The body of a man who was struck by a train last week in Melbourne will not be returning home to Gisborne as the family had hoped. 20-year old Jason Kahukiwa will now be cremated.

“He was a very very loving. He had these bright eyes, deep dimples and was always smiling,” says Te Aroha Rutherford, Jason’s grandmother.

A man who was dearly loved by his whānau and his friends.

Rutherford says, “- He'd always call me his Kawerau nanny and he was loved by his mum and dad.”

Last Thursday, Jason and his best friend 21-year old Callum Hall were struck by a train in Melbourne before midnight.

Kahukiwa’s sister Kylie told Te Kāea, “The coroner’s inquest takes about 15 weeks so we don't officially know what happened but regardless Callum was a hero to my brother and my brother was a hero to him in the way that they kept each other going.”

The whānau were only made aware of Jason's struggle with depression four weeks ago. However, Kylie says a year ago, he also struggled with losing his newborn daughter.

"He was so excited to be having this baby and I think that once it happened he just didn't know how to cope with it. So I think that it was just another thing on top of feelings he might have already had anyway. Everyone knew that he really needed to be comforted but it just wasn't enough.”

Jason's whānau have been overwhelmed by tributes of art, music and financial support. A GoFundMe page made to help bring Jason's body back home has raised nearly $9000.

“Because of the way that he died we just couldn't move, put him on a plane in the condition that he's in. Mum and Dad didn't want to bury him here so they decided that he would be cremated and he would go wherever my mum goes."

Kylie also says delays to Jason's superfund and insurance have made the funeral process difficult.

"You know there's so much paperwork. If you've got a tangi to plan in two weeks within two weeks of a death there's just no way you would have money anyway. So to make it, for a Māori to try and get their bodies home it's so difficult.”

Money left over from donations will be donated to Callum's partner for their two baby girls.