Wife mourns ‘the best man I ever met’

Joel Palmeira with Bianca (18), wife Melyssa and Jaqueline (16) pictured earlier this year in...
Joel Palmeira with Bianca (18), wife Melyssa and Jaqueline (16) pictured earlier this year in Christchurch. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The last couple of days have been a blur for Melyssa Palmeira.

Last week, the Invercargill woman lost her "first and only" love of her life.

Brazilian-born Joel Palmeira (45) died on Friday in a rafting incident on the Waiau River.

The family has lived in New Zealand since 2015. Mr Palmeira was an active member of the Invercargill Brazilian community of about 200 people.

"He was determined, super friendly, a great husband and father," Mrs Palmeira said.

"He definitely was the best man I ever met. He was always trying to stimulate people to be the best they could be."

Mrs Palmeira said her husband was born in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo, and had a "humble background".

"He came from a poor family and he believed the way to succeed in life was studying and working hard. He always was doing courses and qualifications."

The couple met when they were neighbours in Sao Paulo — she was 14 and he was 18.

The friendship turned to a relationship three years later when he "stole a kiss" from her when they were returning from work in the subway.

Married for 22 years, they had two daughters Bianca and Jaqueline.

In Brazil, he completed an electrical engineering degree and worked for 20 years for a big power company.

It was because of "his girls" he decided to move to New Zealand.

First, he travelled alone to Queenstown to study English for four months.

He fell in love with the place and talked to his family about moving to New Zealand.

"He was very proud of the pathway he built here. When he moved, he worked as kitchen hand in Queenstown but he was so determined that he did not stop to look for jobs in his area."

He got a job offer to be a electrical linesworker at Altitude Resurfacing, in Invercargill.

In 2016, the family moved to Southland.

Her daughter Bianca said her father was a kind of "super hero".

"For Brazilian girls, 15 years old is an important age because we have a big ball with friends and family. I remember, when he was still studying English here, he travelled to Brazil to spend only five days there.

"He could not miss my birthday. He was the best father I could ever wish."

An online fundraising page was set up on Saturday to help his family transport his body to Brazil. About $12,900 had been raised by last night.

The family expects to leave at the end of the week.

Mrs Palmeira said they would return to New Zealand, so her daughters could continue their studies.

"It was the mission of his life — give security and the best life possible for our daughters.

"I will keep his legacy and will follow his wishes to honour the man he was."


Clearly a wonderful, determined and loving husband and father. Everyday, an Angel may fall, the good deeds and love of that Angel will be remembered by all. Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Joel's family.