The whānau of Bay of Plenty rugby star Sean Wainui have sent a message of gratitude following the outpouring of grief after the Steamers centre died in a car crash in Tauranga earlier this week.
This weekend’s planned NPC Championship game between the Bay of Plenty and Northland has also now been postponed with Wainui’s tangi set to take place on the same day.
In a short statement via New Zealand Rugby, Wainui’s wife Paige and his extended whānau say they are grateful for the well wishes from all over the world but are still asking for privacy at this time.
“We just want to thank everyone for their love and generosity. The beautiful tributes that have come from those who loved him all across the world means a lot to us all.
“We understand there are many hurting right now and wanting to hear from the whānau, but please respect that we have just lost our baby brother, a son, a husband and a father and our focus right now is healing and laying my brother to rest.
“Thank you all again for respecting the whānau's wishes.”
The game between the Steamers and the Taniwha was scheduled for 2.05pm this Sunday at Tauranga Domain.
However, after consultation between both unions and their respective playing groups, it was deemed inappropriate to play on the day of Wainui’s tangi.
This weekend's game, scheduled for Tauranga Domain, has been postponed. Photo. SunLive.
Wainui's tangi is set to take place at the Te Wainui Marae in Whatatutu, his birth place, this Sunday.
“New Zealand Rugby is working with the Bay of Plenty and Northland unions to reschedule the match, which had been scheduled to be played and will announce details in due course,” reads a statement from NZR.
“Additionally, as a sign of respect to Sean and his whānau NZR have asked the rugby community to come together to acknowledge Sean’s life prior to all Bunnings Warehouse NPC and Heartland Championship matches this weekend.
“Players, coaches, managers and match officials will be wearing black armbands and Sean will also be acknowledged via a special tribute and moment's silence prior to each match this weekend.”
Canterbury and Otago came together to remember Wainui before the start of their Friday night NPC game whilst the Tasman Mako held a moment of remembrance during training ahead of their bye weekend.
A Givealittle page set up to support the Wainui whānau by the late Maori All Blacks’ Super Rugby side Chiefs earlier this week has raised nearly $250,000.
“On behalf of our Chiefs Whānau we would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for your ongoing support with the Givealittle page,” Chiefs stalwart Liam Messam stated on Twitter yesterday.
“Your generosity has been very overwhelming”
Wainui, 25, was the single fatality in a one-vehicle crash in McLaren Falls Park early Monday morning.
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