24 Jan 2016

Body recovered of teen swept to sea

4:22 pm on 24 January 2016

A body found at Mount Maunganui this morning has been confirmed as that of a local teenager swept out to sea yesterday evening.

Hamish Rieger

Hamish Rieger Photo: SUPPLIED

Hamish Rieger, 17, had been sitting on the rocks on Moturiki Island with friends when a large wave washed him away. He was found about 11.15am today.

He was a member of the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service (MMLS) and an experienced event guard at regional and national surf sports events.

In a statement, parents Greg and Donna Rieger thanked police and searchers.

"We really appreciate the efforts of our surf lifesaving friends, the police and everyone involved for bringing our son back to us.

"Getting him back means a huge amount to us; now we'd respectfully request space so we can concentrate on supporting each other through this time."

MMLS president Brent Warner said the club had pulled together and younger club members were being supported.

"The Rieger family is hugely involved in our club and Hamish was a talented young lifeguard in his own right, who was on patrol earlier in the day," said Mr Warner.

He said it was a very traumatic time for all members, and the club was doing all it could to support them.

Mount Maunganui College principal Russell Gordon said it was an unspeakable tragedy for a special family.

"They're heavily involved in their surf life saving and gave up countless hours of their time to support the community.

"Losing this young man is a huge, huge loss for the college community, but for the community at large as well."

Mr Gordon said Hamish Rieger was a strong swimmer and an active member of the lifeguard service.

Surf lifesavers join the search on Sunday.

Lifeguards joining the search on Sunday. Photo: SNPA / Cameron Avery

Surf Life Saving and the Coastguard had been working in challenging conditions with police since the teenager went missing at 7pm yesterday.

Last night rescue agencies including a helicopter responded to calls saying the boy had been washed out to sea.

But police said the sea was very choppy with a large swell in the search area, and conditions both last night and this morning were very challenging.

Moturiki Island was closed to the public last night, but the track on the island reopened this morning and people have been asked to stay on the tracks because of the surf conditions.