Hundreds of mourners have gathered to say a final goodbye to fallen mixed martial arts fighter Fau Vake.
The 25-year-old died at the weekend – a week after allegedly being assaulted in central Auckland in the early hours of Sunday, May 16.
At a funeral service at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Tuingapapai in Favona, family, friends and many within the mixed martial arts community gathered to hear tributes to the young man.
The service, livestreamed online, showed a black casket decked with the Coat of Arms of Tonga and the symbol of his beloved gym, City Kickboxing.
Many mourners wore traditional Tongan mats, according to cultural protocol.
Those at the funeral included some of New Zealand’s top MMA athletes – including champion fighter Israel Adesanya.
Mourners heard of a young man who worked hard at his craft alongside his brothers, who also took up the sport.
A humble man with a big smile
The former Kelston Boys’ High student had a big heart for his family – particularly for his mother, Luisa, who he named his 3-year-old daughter after.
Mourners heard his big smile was only matched by that belonging to his little girl.
Vake was also a devoted partner to Chrissy. The couple had been together for almost 10 years.
Relatives spoke of a kind young man who was always quick to offer a hand of help to another.
But they also talked of heartbreak – with one cousin saying they had cried to God for a miracle and that he would live. But it was not to be.
She described how hard they had prayed over those seven days as he lay critically ill at Auckland City Hospital.
The minister at the service acknowledged the loss of losing someone so young and someone who had much to live for.
But he told mourners to remember where their loved one is now – free from pain.
“Liufau is truly, truly free now.”
He called Vake a champion – but not the usual kind.
“That’s the amazing thing. Although he was a champion…he was a lowly and humble man. I believe he takes good care of his daughter and loved one.
“We thank God – believing that all goodness comes from him. We thank God that he gave such goodness, a champion, to Liufau.”
Friends of Vake and his family have set up a Givealittle page to help. By lunch time, it had reached just over $48,000.
Additional charges yet to be made
Vake’s funeral comes as police are due to lay more charges in relation to the incident that resulted in his death.
Four men have been charged and appeared in the Auckland District Court on the Monday after the incident on Symonds St.
One is charged with common assault, another with two counts of assaulting with intent to injure, another charged with wounding with intent and injuring with intent, and another is also charged with common assault.
Three of the men are aged 29. The fourth is a 32-year-old.
A police spokesman said today that no additional charges have been laid at this stage.
It is understood any additional charges will be filed before the next court date on June 8.
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