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Tavita Tusitala

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Gift of fire truck to Samoa honours NZ firefighter
« on: November 18, 2009, 03:49:04 PM »
Gift of $600,000 fire truck honours dead NZ volunteer

A new fire truck has been donated to Samoa in memory of the New Zealand volunteer firefighter who was killed while on his way to help at the tsunami disaster zone.

Levaopolo Peter Letiu, from Mangere in South Auckland, died when the fire truck he was a passenger in rolled.

The group of firefighters were on their way on September 29 to the district of Aleipata, where dozens of people were reportedly dead and hundreds of others injured.

Mr Letiu, 33, became the first firefighter in Samoa to be killed in the line of duty.

This week, a new fire truck, donated by the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade and valued at $600,000, was presented to the Fire and Emergency Services in Apia.

Australian High Commissioner Matt Anderson told the Samoa Observer it was a gift dedicated to Mr Letiu, who had been training to become a firefighter only two months before he was killed.

Mr Letiu regularly travelled between New Zealand and Samoa to help his mother, who lives there.

His widow, Nele, young daughter Mile and extended family live in Mangere, Manukau City.

Mr Letiu was a popular radio presenter for the Auckland-based Niu FM and 531PI radio stations.

He was also a keen chef and photographer.

At a service in Apia the week after the accident, Nele Letiu paid tribute to her husband of almost 10 years.

"He just knew how to say something that would make me smile," she said. "He was a really awesome, awesome partner."



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