25 Aug 2012

Body of police officer returns from Tonga

7:49 pm on 25 August 2012

The body of a New Zealand police officer killed in Tonga returned home to a moving welcome in Auckland on Saturday.

Kali Fungavaka died in hospital on Thursday.

He had been assaulted in a Tongan police cell after being arrested on a minor drunkenness charge.

About 80 police officers welcomed Kali Fungavaka and his family with a haka and karakia as they arrived at Auckland International Airport from Tonga on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Fungavaka's cousin Blake Wong-Ling says it was a moving homecoming.

He says the last few days have been very difficult for the family but it's great to have Mr Fungavaka home.

Mr Wong-Ling described his cousin as a funny guy, without trying to be funny, and someone who was incredibly passionate about his work.

He says Mr Fungavaka's funeral is planned for next week.