Surf Life Saving NZ Acknowledges Fatality at Awanui Port, Ruatoria

Thursday, 6 May 2021


On Friday 9th April, Police tasked the Character Roofing Gisborne Search & Rescue Squad (SARS) to be put on standby for a search at the remote location of Awanui Port, Ruatoria.

A father & son had been fishing for the day & were returning back towards shore when their boat capsized. Both father & son were flung from their boat. The son made it back to shore to raise the alarm that his father was missing.

The squad were then deployed at 6am on 10th April to the location to begin the search. An initial land search was conducted at the location. A fixed wing plane was deployed via Police for an aerial search. Upon spotting something in the water, two inflatable rescue boats were deployed from the beach to search the GPS location.

The volunteer Surf Lifeguards located the deceased victim who was identified as the missing father & retrieved his body.

The incident took place outside of patrol season for the region at a non-lifeguarded beach that is only accessible via an old riverbed road with very little mobile coverage. The rocky location, weather & wave conditions made the search extremely challenging.

Surf Life Saving NZ would like to thank the Character Roofing Gisborne SARS, all the volunteers and emergency service personnel involved in the search & retrieval of the deceased.

Our sincere condolences & thoughts are with the man’s whānau (family) & friends. Even though this was a tragic outcome, we hope that returning their loved one helps with their grieving process.