28 Jun 2009

Workers killed in house collapse named

9:48 am on 28 June 2009

Police have released the names of two people crushed to death when the house they were trying to secure to foundations collapsed in South Auckland.

They were Marsh Terahi Wiri Peihopa, 24, and Waepeke Ruihana Tupaea, 61,

The relocated villa was on piles at a marae in the suburb of Manurewa when the incident happened just before 1pm on Friday.

Inspector Alan Shearer says the house was moved to the marae on Thursday and contractors were working to secure it to the site.

Police say a bulldozer slid into the house pushing it off temporary foundations and causing it to collapse on six workers.

Two people managed to get out of the building unassisted when it collapsed.

Another two people were been taken to Middlemore Hospital. One is seriously injured and is in the hospital's high dependency unit in a stable condition. The other man has been discharged from hospital.

Police say both bodies were safely removed from the house and were to be taken to the coroner on Friday night.

Officers have spoken with the driver of the bulldozer.

Radio New Zealand's reporter at the scene on Friday said the corrugated iron roof of the old villa had snapped in half, walls and windows were shattered and the bulldozer was on its side resting against the building.

The house was to be used as a health clinic.

Marae chairman Eru Thompson says completing the healthare centre is the only way the marae can do justice to the Mr Peihopa and Mr Tupaea, because the clinic is the reason they were there that day.

Mr Thompson says, however, that plans for the clinic have been put on hold until after the two men have been laid to rest.

Manukau City mayor, Len Brown, says the marae bought the building from the council for $10,000.

He says the house was an old villa, but in very sound condition, and the deaths were an extraordinary freak accident.

The Department of Labour is investigating.