14 Jul 2014

Family mourns loss of devoted mum

12:50 pm on 14 July 2014

The family of 28-year-old Talia Smith are mourning the loss of a devoted sister and mother who was swept to her death in a flooded river in the Bay of Islands.

Talia Smith.

Talia Smith. Photo: FACEBOOK

She was last seen on Saturday morning struggling to get back to a house from her car which was partly submerged by water from the swollen Waitangi River. She had been attending a party at a rural property west of Waitangi .

A search went on from first light on Saturday, but the Upper Hutt woman was not found until Sunday when river levels downstream from the Haruru Falls had dropped.

Ms Smith's brother, Anton Smith-Waaka, said he and his brother Matthew were very close to their older sister, particularly after the death of their mother.

"She assumed the role of our mother, because our mother's just passed away one and a half years ago, and she just assumed the role of mother to us - to myself and my brother - when we really needed her," he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme.

"She was a really great, caring person and she (was) fully devoted to her son. Most of her attention and love and devotion just went to her son, that was all she pretty much worked around."

Haruru Falls on the Waitangi River.

Haruru Falls on the Waitangi River. Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams