STAFF and past students from Kawerau primary schools have remembered a much-loved former teacher who was killed in a horror crash in Southern Africa while holidaying with her best friend.
Former Opotiki woman Joanne Joss, nee Lambert, and Marie Moncur, from Kawerau, had been travelling on a tourist bus through the Southern Africa country of Lesotho when it overturned in the Qacha’s Nek district near the South Africa border.
Mrs Joss and eight others were killed while Mrs Moncur and another New Zealand citizen were among more than 50 people injured.
Mrs Joss had been a teacher for more than 40 years before joining Kawerau Putauaki School in 2012 as part of the merger with Kawerau North School.
She worked as a reading recovery teacher as well as with the new entrants before retiring to spend more time with her granddaughter.
Former students on Facebook have remembered Mrs Joss as a kind and patient teacher.
One student said she felt blessed to have Mrs Joss first teach her and then teach her daughter. “I’m so shocked to hear of your passing,” she wrote.
“I always thought of you as ageless and invincible, one of the best teachers ever, you’ll be missed so much.”
Another wrote that Mrs Joss was lovely and positive and always got stuck into PE lessons, even in heels.
Mrs Joss’ daughter, Emma Joss, told Stuff that her mother loved teaching and that was reflected in the many past students who had reached out to the family to offer their condolences.
She said the two women were best friends and had previously travelled to China and Morocco together.
Mrs Moncur remains in a critical condition in hospital while the identity of the third injured New Zealander is still unknown.
Mrs Joss’ parents, Bo and Vonny Lambert, had a farm on Crooked Road before they relocated to Edgecumbe.
She will be remembered by many Opotiki people who went to school, and later teachers’ college, with her.
Radio New Zealand has reported that the driver of the bus, George Themba, was arrested while trying to cross the border into Zimbabwe and has been charged with culpable homicide.
The New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, is aiding the New Zealanders and their families.