Victims of Kaipara Harbour boating tragedy named

7:56 pm on 28 November 2016

Police have released the names of the six passengers who died in the Kaipara Harbour boat tragedy, and one who is presumed drowned.

The men died after the fishing charter vessel the Francie capsized on Saturday in rough weather as it made the approach to the Kaipara bar.

They were:

* Auerua Ngametuaangai Aria, a 59-year-old Cook Islander. [No photo available]

* Alipate Afeaki Manumua, known as "Pate", a 33-year-old Tongan.

Alipate Afeaki Manumua, also known as Pate, and his family

Alipate Afeaki Manumua, also known as Pate, and his family Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Fred Marsters, known as "Freddy", a 58-year-old Cook Islander.

Fred Marsters - pictured in a photo supplied by his family

Fred Marsters - pictured in a photo supplied by his family Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Tevita Natisolo Tangi, known as "David", a 31-year-old Tongan.

Tevita Natisolo Tangi, also known as David

Tevita Natisolo Tangi, also known as David Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Fonua Amanu Taufa, known as "Nua", a 42-year-old Tongan.

Fonua Amanu Taufa (Nua) with his wife Tepola (Deborah)

Fonua Amanu Taufa (Nua) with his wife Tepola (Deborah) Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Sunia Ungounga, a 43-year-old Tongan.

Sunia Ungounga with his two daughters

Sunia Ungounga with his two daughters Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Taulagi Afamasaga, known as "Lagi", 56, was missing and presumed drowned. The search for him continued, police said.

Taulagi "Lagi" Afamasaga - pictured with his daughter Amy

Taulagi "Lagi" Afamasaga - pictured with his daughter Amy Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

* Skipper Bill McNatty was among those who perished.

Family liaison officers had been assigned to the families of each of the men who died, police said.

There were 11 people on board the boat when it capsized. Three men were rescued and taken to hospital on Saturday night.

Brother's death 'worst day of my life'

Walter Marsters, whose brother, Fred, died in the Francie sinking, said the family had gathered in Papatoetoe to support and grieve with the his brother's wife and three children.

Walter Marsters said he was dumbfounded and could not function when he learned his brother was missing.

"Terrible. Yesterday was even worse, the day before was the worst day of my life.

"When I heard that my brother was missing, I was hoping he was one of the survivors - it wasn't to be."

Victims fished to feed families

Many of the men who died were well known to Auckland fishing charter operators.

A skipper who had taken most of the men out, some on numerous occasions, said they loved to fish, but it was not simply recreational.

They fished to feed their families and paid about $80 each on Saturday to do so, he said.

While the men fished both the East and West coasts, they preferred Auckland's rougher west coast where the snapper limit was 10, rather than seven.

Tim Jago, from the Muriwai Surf Club, told Morning Report that none of the bodies found by club members had lifejackets on.

Teen pulled survivor from surf

A teenager has described finding a survivor of the Kaipara Harbour boat tragedy crawling exhausted onto the beach, with a lifejacket on each arm.

"I was worried he was going to die from fighting the surf... in my truck … in my hands," Jackson Knight, 18, told Checkpoint with John Campbell.

The man was one of three survivors Knight helped on Saturday after the Francie, a fishing charter vessel, capsized.

Knight and his friend were four-wheel-driving on the beach as the search for survivors started.

He first realised something was wrong when he noticed household items had washed up - sugar, dishwashing liquid and sunblock.

Soon after, a rescue helicopter came to where they were on the beach with a dead man in the winch and two survivors on board, he said.

"I just didn't want to believe it was a body. He got lowered down … just lifeless."

Knight and his friend gave the survivors the clothes off their backs, put them in one of their trucks and turned on the heater.

"We just tried to keep them warm and make sure they were OK."

The pair held lifejackets in their hands, he said.

"They were just in shock. They just reckon it all happened so fast."

The search base at South Head.

The search base at South Head. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The rescue helicopter brought in two further bodies while Knight was there.

About 30 minutes later, about 150 metres up the beach, he noticed a "square object" in the surf.

He and his friend took a truck there and found the third survivor "on all fours" crawling out of the water.

"He looked lifeless but his old ticker was still pumping."

"The tide was coming in… it took him a while to jump to his feet as he was in a bit of pain."

The man had a lifejacket on each arm. The duo took him back down the beach to get help from paramedics.

"I was worried he was going to die from fighting the surf... in my truck... in my hands."

They put him in the truck with the other two survivors to warm him up.

"He was a battler for sure."

Kaipara Harbour map

The Kaipara Harbour is northwest of Auckland. Photo: Google

Lifejackets save lives - PM

Prime Minister John Key hoped boaties would learn from the deaths that "they've got to wear a lifejacket".

"And if they don't, they could claim the life of someone they love."

Mr Key said in the past it proved difficult to make the wearing of lifejackets compulsory, but the government could "come back to".

"I think it's got to be as much culture as the law."

Mr Key said it should be the skipper's responsibility to make sure all passengers wore lifejackets.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has started an investigation into the capsizing. It said any safety issues identified in the early phases of the inquiry would be addressed through urgent safety recommendations.