Tongan man in Auckland dies at sea, a girl and two men survived

A family reunion meeting  organised to be held this Saturday in Hamilton was cancelled because a family member has died,  it has been announced.

Hiva Lavaka, 24, described on Facebook by family members as the son of Vaine Taulanga Foʻou Lavaka, died at Hot Water Beach near Whitianga in the Coromandel at about 5.30 pm  Sunday 24.

Vaine described herself in her Facebook account as she comes from Mataika, Vavaʻu in Tonga.

It is understood Hiva and three others got caught in a rip tide  before rescuers were alerted by screaming for help.

Hiva was described by a family member as ”  very humble, polite and respectful, and his death to her “was a shock”.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand Education Manager Leigh Sefton was reported by media as saying  the patrol had ended for the day and all the gear had been packed up when the incident happened.

“They were packed up at 5pm and our very young junior life guards, about six or eight, were waiting for their rides home when four people with body boards went into the water and got caught in a rip,” Sefton said.

“Anytime something like this happens it’s a very traumatic experience for any lifeguard. They were able to bring them back to shore and tried relentlessly to save the man. If they hadn’t been there we could’ve had multiple fatalities,” Sefton said.

Meanwhile a family announcement by HydrangeaKuli Folauhola  on Facebook this evening informed family members and makapuna of Lesieli and Kuli their  reunion meeting scheduled for  this coming Saturday was cancelled due the death of Hiva.

Lavaka’s family could not be reached for comments.

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