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Family of first Greek man to die from COVID in New Zealand speak out

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Manoli Tzanoudakis and his bride Betty were at the centre of an infamous wedding in Bluff, New Zealand, where as many as 98 people contracted COVID-19.

One of the 98 people was Manoli’s 87-year-old father, Chrisanthos Tzanoudakis, who later became the first Greek man to die in NZ from the virus.

READ MORE: Greek man becomes the fourth victim of coronavirus in New Zealand.

”It was an amazing day with all our family around us. Then it all changed,” Betty told NZ Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower in his documentary, Patrick Gower: On Lockdown.

Betty and Manoli’s wedding was the centre of the Bluff cluster. Photo: Mediaworks.

Betty had proposed to husband Manoli on a Stewart Island hunting trip. They spent months planning their wedding reception which was held at Oyster Cove Restaurant in Bluff on March 21.

In the days following the wedding, a guest tested positive for COVID-19. Then the bride and groom tested positive.

“One of the guests rang me to ask how we were,” Betty said. “He said that he was unwell and had been tested for COVID-19 and was positive. Then it was like, ‘wow’.”

Manoli’s father, originally from Greece, had lived in Wellington for more than 50 years. He worked on the wharves and owned a fish and chip shop. He planned to move back to Greece after the wedding.

But on the Thursday after the wedding his father was very sick, Manoli said.

“He got rushed to hospital. He was going up and down, and then he started deteriorating.”

His father was put on an oxygen mask but was pulling it off because he was in so much pain.

Speaking in Greek, Manoli told him to “be strong, and we will get through it.”

It was the last thing he said to his father, who died on April 10.

One of their guests, a flight attendant, was identified as bringing the virus into the country.

But Manoli said he wouldn’t blame his father’s death on anyone. He blames the virus.

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