"I was with him in his final moments. There was a lot of family and friends," said fellow former Bachelorette New Zealand star Marc Johnson

By Gabrielle Chung
May 01, 2021 12:00 AM
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Tavita Karika
Tavita Karika
| Credit: GIVEALITTLE

Tavita Karika, who appeared on the first season of New Zealand's version of The Bachelorette, has died at the age of 31.

His death was confirmed by fellow former contestant Marc Johnson, who told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that he was with Karika when the reality star died on Thursday night in Wellington.

"I can confirm that Tavita did pass last night around midnight," Johnson said. "I can't tell you if it was before or after because it was just too emotional, and before I knew it four or five hours had passed."

"I was with him in his final moments. There was a lot of family and friends," he said.

A cause of death has not been released.

Tavita Karika
Tavita Karika (left) on Heartbreak Island
| Credit: NZTV

A native of Christchurch, Karika — who also starred in the 2018 season of dating show Heartbreak Island — had just finished his barber's apprenticeship, according to Stuff.

Johnson told the outlet that he and Karika had "been best friends" since meeting on The Bachelorette New Zealand and the two hung out earlier this week.

"His birthday was next month. He was in a very happy point in his life ... that was one of the last things that he said to me a few days ago," Johnson said. "He cut my hair on Wednesday and did such an amazing job and that was the last time I saw him. He was a good guy and he loved everyone."

In the wake of Karika's death, friends have set up a crowdfunding campaign to help cover funeral costs on behalf of his family.

"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of our friend Tavita Antoni Karika," a description on the page read. "On the 29th of April 2021 Tavita took his last breath and with that our hearts."

"If you had the pleasure of knowing Tavita you will know just how difficult this is for his family, friends and all who loved him," the statement read.

Lesina Nakhid-Schuster
Credit: Lesina Nakhid-Schuster/INSTAGRAM

The Bachelorette New Zealand family have also shared social media tributes to Karika amid the sad news of his death.

Former Bachelorette Lesina Nakhid-Schuster wrote on her Instagram Stories, "Tavita was a hilarious man with the best chuckle, and the best one liners. I loved hearing how enthusiastic he was about looking after his mum, learning about his gym and food routines, and creating funny handshakes together."

"I also really admired him opening the doors on the topic of mental health and some of his hardest times," she continued. "My heart goes out to Tavitas loved ones. Having the pleasure of meeting Tavita, I know what a truly devastating loss this is."

Meanwhile, second season Bachelorette Lily McManus shared on her Instagram Stories, "I am absolutely f------ gutted to hear the news. Tavit brought such a warm, bright and charismatic soul to the Bachelorette. He left his mark on everyone involved. I hope he and his family are able to find peace."