Vodafone Warriors players and staff joined mourners at the funeral for construction industry leader Pera Te Amo in Auckland on Thursday.

The 45-year-old Te Amo died after falling into a three-metre deep trench and being buried by collapsing soil in Papakura last Saturday. He was rescued and taken to hospital but later died from injuries received.

He had a strong association with the Vodafone Warriors including a close relationship with NRL players David Fusitu’a, Blake Ayshford and the recently-departed James Gavet. Fusitu’a and Ayshford attended today’s funeral along with Vodafone Warriors staff members.

Te Amo and his family shared a special passion for the Vodafone Warriors and rugby league as a whole. Indeed, a standout feature of his trucks was the airbrushing work applied by Warren Houston from Rotorua. Vodafone Warriors were airbrushed on the trucks’ bonnets (including Manu Vatuvei and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck).

Te Amo had a key involvement in an education initiative the Tu Kaha Foundation and the Vodafone Warriors have been partners in. He provided the country’s biggest mobile classroom in the shape of his huge 600hp Mack Super-Liner and customised trailer branded in Vodafone Warriors colours and logos.

The rig rolled into Mount Smart Stadium for the Vodafone Warriors’ home game against Cronulla in July last year.

The Tu Kaha Foundation commissioned the state-of-the-art mobile classroom with the intention of taking its Tu Kaha values programme to decile one schools around the country with a specific focus on rural areas.

The Tu Kaha programme aims to help year five-to-nine children to make the best decisions possible in life by focusing on a solid value base delivered through a curriculum which was enhanced by the endorsement of Vodafone Warriors players and management. Blake’s wife Maria and Tui-kaye Cole – former prop Jacob Lillyman’s partner – created a key learning programme for the mobile classroom called Taonga by TM ('T' for Tui-kaye and 'M' for Maria).

Tui-kaye (Ngati Whatua) and Maria (Ngati Awa) "identified an opportunity to reinvigorate the use of Te Reo Māori (Māori language) by bridging the gap between the home and school."

The programme's website says: "Taonga by TM provides high quality Māori resources, creative design and personalised prints. Knowing that Māori language can vary from tribe to tribe, iwi to iwi, Taonga by TM can personalise items specific to your needs and wants."

The Vodafone Warriors pass on their condolences to Pera’s wife Selena and their family.