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St Kevin’s College pupil Watson Tuapati (left) died earlier this week, and the school has set up a Givealittle page to support his family. Principal Paul Olsen (right) is encouraging people to give to the fundraiser. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/ST KEVIN'S COLLEGE

St Kevin’s College is mourning the loss of one of its best and brightest.

Year 13 pupil Roko Watesoni Tawatatau Tuapati(17), known as Watson, sustained critical injuries in a car crash near Teschemakers at Easter, and had his life support turned off on Tuesday.

St Kevin’s College principal Paul Olsen said the school had set up a Givealittle page to support Watson’s family, who had lost income after relocating from elsewhere in New Zealand to be with him. The school had also been supporting Watson’s family in Fiji and the local Fijian community.

“We are hoping that the love of the local community for Watson will be expressed by wanting to help the family at this awful time. The fact he also has a father in Fiji, and family all across the world, has also meant everything has been more complicated and costly for the whanau,” Mr Olsen said.

“We have been very conscious of the incredible pain his father in Fiji must be feeling, and with Covid restrictions, how tough it must be to have been so far away from him. We deeply appreciate the support that has been given to us from our local Fijian community in the wider extended community.”

By Thursday morning, more than $8,500 had been donated.

Watson started studying at St Kevin’s two years ago on an educational scholarship and quickly immersed himself in school and sporting opportunities. He was a school prefect for Whyte House this year, Mr Olsen said.

Mr Olsen described Watson as the “best of the best” – a big man on the rugby field, but even bigger off it.

“He had a heart of gold and was an amazing role model. He was a great athlete, but took time to encourage even the smallest and least able kids to do their best.

“He was always respectful to staff, but also had a great sense of humour.”

The school’s counsellors, deans and hostel staff were offering support to pupils.

“The first XV have been at the school this week, and have been looked after by hostel staff and coaches who knew and loved Watson.”

A funeral would be held at St Kevin’s College chapel at 1pm tomorrow. The family welcomed anyone who wanted to attend, Mr Olsen said.

Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, said police passed on their condolences to Watson’s family, and the wider community.

The single-vehicle crash was still under investigation.

Anyone wanting to donate to the Givealittle page, can do so at givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-watsons-whanau-during-this-tragic-time.