teenager who died after she was pulled from a Hamilton motel
swimming pool had lived in an orphanage, and had a promising
teaching career ahead of her.
Deepika Kumar died in Waikato Hospital about 10.40pm on
Sunday after she was found at the bottom of a motel pool the
The 18-year-old, who had been attending the Parachute music
festival, was due to return to Suva, where she had been
accepted to start teacher training at a university.
The Anglican Bishop-elect of Waikato, Helen-Ann Hartley, said
there was immense grief among Deepika's friends both in Fiji
and New Zealand.
She said the mother superior of the Sisters of the Community
of the Sacred Name in Fiji was arriving in Auckland today
from Tonga to accompany Deepika's body back to Suva after a
Bishop Hartley was unclear about Deepika's family
circumstances but said St Christopher's in Suva, which is an
orphanage that also provides mentoring for disadvantaged
children, was "for all intents and purposes her family" for
the past two years.
It also remained unclear what happened to her before being
found unconscious in the pool. "There is still some clarity
to be worked on on that so the best thing to say is it's
really a tragic, tragic accident and the loss of a young
woman who was remarkable and had a life of such promise ahead
of her," she said.
Archbishop Philip Richardson said the prayers of the church
were with the community that had cared for her. He said
Deepika had become part of St Mary's parish in Whitby,
Porirua, since arriving in December, and had been staying
with a family who treated her as a daughter.
Police said Ms Kumar was on her own for 20 minutes before she
was found at the bottom of the pool but they were unsure how
long she had been underwater.
Water Safety NZ chief executive Matt Claridge said about four
people in the 5 to 18 age bracket had drowned in swimming
pools in recent years.
He didn't know the details surrounding Deepika's death but
said: "My reactionary message is never to swim alone."