Kaipara Harbour victim's brother missed call for deadly fishing trip

8:39 am on 29 November 2016

The brother of a man who died in the Kaipara boating accident at the weekend says he would have been on the boat if he hadn't missed a call.

Fred Marsters

Fred Marsters Photo: Facebook / Fred Marsters

Fred Marsters was one of those killed when the chartered fishing boat, the Francie, capsized on the Kaipara bar.

His brother, Walter Marsters, described the day his brother died as the worst of his life.

He said Fred would always go with one of his two brothers, but on Saturday the oldest brother was busy and Walter missed his call.

"When I heard that my brother was missing, my initial thought was 'I know he's a strong swimmer, I know he's a strong guy, and the only thing I could think of was that he was either knocked unconscious or he just didn't have time to rescue himself."

"I couldn't function. I just thought 'I've been on that boat, I've been with my brother, he's taken me fishing with him" he said.

Six people were rescued but others were feared dead after what is thought to be The Francie fishing vessel got into trouble in the Kaipara Harbour, northwest of Auckland.

The Francie, the boat which capsized on Saturday Photo: Facebook

"And he had thought of ringing me to go with him, and he couldn't get hold of me and that's the reason why I didn't go on the boat."

Mr Marsters said his brother went fishing every weekend - it was his passion.

But Walter was more wary.

"I know how treacherous that bar is, we had an experience a couple of years ago when ... the wash crashed onto the back of the boat, but we survived that and we made it back.

"And I've thought to myself over the years that if I was to go over the bar again it has to be a really calm day or the boat has to be designed for that type of fishing."

He said family from Australia and Rarotonga were making plans to travel to Auckland to support the immediate family.

Six of the victims of the Kaipara capsizing, clockwise from top left, Tevita Natisolo Tangi, Fred Marsters, Fonua Amanu Taufa (Nua), Taulagi "Lagi" Afamasaga, Sunia Ungounga and Alipate Afeaki Manumua.

Six of the victims of the Kaipara capsizing, clockwise from top left, Tevita Natisolo Tangi, Fred Marsters, Fonua Amanu Taufa (Nua), Taulagi 'Lagi' Afamasaga, Sunia Ungounga and Alipate Afeaki Manumua. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Maritime Association warned government over rule change

Meanwhile the Maritime Transport Association says it warned the government a law change governing coastal waters would lead to a disaster.

The maritime rules covering commercial vessels changed in 1997.

Maritime Transport Association executive officer Margaret Wind told Morning Report vessels would have not been allowed to go beyond a bar without additional equipment.

"Prior to that, only coastal vessels could go over those bars, so that's Manukau, Greymouth, the works, so now there is the ability for surveyors to enable craft to go over there without all that additional equipment.

"It has caused some issues over the years with vessels that are too small and not carrying enough equipment going out into these areas."

Ms Wind said the sinking of the Francie was the only such incident she could recall since the law change, but said she was aware of near misses.