Kathleen Heather died in Auckland after being ill since earlier this year. She had been evacuated to New Zealand for medical treatment in January. Her death is the second tragedy to have befallen the deputy prime minister’s family. His wife, Taromi died in January this year after losing a battle with cancer. She was 59.
Out of respect for the family’s wish for privacy, CI News chose not to publish the passing of the popular young woman until after her funeral.
William Heather, the Democratic Party leader and younger brother to the DPM, said the whole family had been left reeling after the untimely death of his niece Kathleen. At the time the family were gathering to make funeral arrangements last week, William Heather said all political differences had been put aside and the entire family were coming together in support of each other.
He extended deep personal condolences to the family as well as profound sympathy on behalf of the Democratic caucus members and executive. He said it was a terrible tragedy to befall the family so soon after the loss of DPM Heather’s wife earlier this year.
Heather said several Arorangi families were experiencing the recent loss of loved ones and he extended the profound sympathies of the Democratic Party to all family members. Attractive and well-liked, Kathleen had posted in social media that she celebrated her 21st birthday in December.
Her Facebook cover photo carries the just three poignant words in Cook Islands Maori – Kauraro, Akarongo, Akakoromaki (respect, listen, patience).
Close friends have expressed disbelief over her death on social media, lamenting the sudden loss of a beautiful young woman and dear friend.
CI News extends deep sympathy to the Heather family over their loss.