Coronavirus: Family of Māngere church cluster victim pay tribute to 'very respectful' and 'loving' man

The widow of a man who died from COVID-19 in Auckland last week has bid a tearful farewell to him from hospital.

Fiatau Pulusi, who was considered a stalwart of the Assembly of God Church of Samoa community, was one of the 386 people who caught the virus as part of the Māngere church cluster. He died in Middlemore Hospital on October 6.

His wife Tagi Pulusi also has COVID-19 and is currently in ICU. Although she was unable to attend Fiatau's funeral, she had a message from her hospital bed.

"I miss you, going to miss you every day. I love you, I love you so much."

Faletua Rebekah Toleafoa, the Assembly of God Church of Samoa representative, says it's been an incredibly hard time for Tagi, who only recently started talking again.

"She's so devastated about all this and emotional, and she's slowly coming out of the coma that she was in for 40 days."

She says neither Fiatau nor Tagi had been vaccinated when the outbreak began. She wants all in the community, especially some young people who remain hesitant, to do the right thing. 

"Honestly, this is real. Everybody needs to get vaccinated, the young ones especially. This is not a time just to sit around and do nothing, you need to get vaccinated," she says.

Fiatau leaves behind five children and grandchildren. 

"Papa, he was a very good man. He was very respectful, kind and loving," one of his granddaughters says.

"We loved you and you loved us. You will never be forgotten. Love you. Rest in peace," his grandson says.

Known to many as Tau, his family remember him as a dedicated, kind man. He was 55.