Amid the tumult and drama of the trial of Gable Tostee over the past week, much has been written about the exploits of the man who stood trial.
Little, however, was written about the young, beautiful New Zealand woman who fell to her death from the balcony of his Surfers Paradise apartment – Warriena Tagpuno Wright.
Ms Wright seems have to have become a footnote in the dramatic trial in which a jury this week acquitted Mr Tostee on the charge of her murder, and on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
In August 2014, Ms Wright came to Australia for a two-week holiday, to be spent largely alone, apart from the attendance at a friend’s wedding.
In early August, she posted pictures on social media typical of any southeast Queensland holiday – at Australia Zoo, climbing the Q1 tower and hanging out on Gold Coast beaches. She looked happy and relaxed, friends said later.
On the evening of August 8, she met Gable Tostee, 30, on a date arranged via dating app Tinder.
Later that night she was dead after falling 14 floors from Mr Tostee’s apartment. Warriena Wright was just 26.
Ms Wright was stunningly ordinary
Her sister Marreza Tagpuno described Ms Wright as a beautiful, intelligent, caring person, as her “best friend”, when she spoke in interviews soon after her arrival in Australia upon news of her sister’s death.
“Rrie was the most important person in my world,” Marreza told a press conference.
“Most of the time we only had each other to rely on.
“She was a funny practical joker who constantly kept me and my friends entertained and happy.
“She looked out for me and always made sure that I was okay.”
A gregarious, well liked and extraordinary personality, everything else about Ms Wright was stunningly ordinary.
Ms Wright came from Lower Hutt, a non-descript city just north of Wellington city on New Zealand’s North Island where she worked in a call centre for government-run Kiwibank.
She was an aspiring photographer and passionate campaigner for animal rights, who would regularly post articles and thoughts online to raise awareness about animal welfare. She had even written to Parliament in the past requesting harsher penalties for animal abusers.
She came from a religious family, growing up attending a Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern Wellington, where her mother Beth served as a deacon.
Friend Edwina Ulberg, who attended the church with Wright during their teenage years, told the New Zealand Herald in 2014:
“She was really shy and quiet. She was really nice – a beautiful person inside and out. She was really caring. She helped people out and stuff. She was really nice.”
Slut-shaming Ms Wright
To add insult to injury, Ms Wright’s family had to endure judgements about their daughter’s judgement on sexual relations.
Writing in The Northand Age, editor Peter Jackson opined that Ms Wright was a “willing accomplice” in her death, and that she “knowingly embarked upon a sexual escapade that ended in tragedy”.
“This with a man who she had never met before, who she did not know, yet whose behaviour she could have predicted.”
“If she had observed even a modicum of the social mores of previous generations, she would not have been there,” he went on.
But in the face of criticism about Ms Wright’s alleged negligence by going back to Mr Tostee’s apartment on the night they first met, Marreza noted: “She was really responsible as well.”
Marreza said Ms Wright was a fiercely independent woman who wanted to buy a home, find love and marry one day.