Grandfather's full sacrifice
Jack Wiki was a loving grandfather who made the greatest sacrifice for his grandchildren.
The 55-year-old from Otahuhu was gathering seafood in Northland in 2009 when two of his grandchildren were caught in a rip. He died saving them.
Mayor Len Brown presented an In Memoriam certificate to Mr Wiki's family at the Auckland Town Hall on Friday.
The Royal Humane Society of New Zealand awards the certificates as an extension of the honours system to acknowledge those who put their own lives at risk to save others.
Mr Wiki was at his usual spot on The Bluff at Ninety Mile Beach gathering seafood on December 29, 2009.
His grandchildren from Mt Wellington, 6-year-old Jezius and 7-year-old Jezaya Peyroux-Wiki, were playing in knee-deep water about 50 metres away.
They were caught up in a rip running around the rock and Mr Wiki jumped into the water to save them.
Beach-goers Russell Steiner, Matthew Sheterline and Andrew Bucknell saw the commotion and waded out to help.
Mr Steiner grabbed both children and headed back to safety but lost his grip on Jezius.
Mr Wiki reached Jezius and tried to keep him above his head but he was struggling to stay afloat. The two children were taken to safety but Mr Sheterline and Mr Wiki were swept out to sea. Mr Sheterline made it to the rocks and had to be carried to the beach, suffering from exhaustion.
The men spotted Mr Wiki's body floating about 100 metres off shore.
Volunteer ambulance officer Kerry Sinclair administered CPR for 30 minutes but was unable to revive Mr Wiki.
Mr Wiki's oldest daughter Priscilla accepted the award on behalf of her family.
The 30-year-old says her father was a real hero.
"We're all so very proud of him and what he did for my children that day. He would be chuffed with this."
Family meant everything to her father, she says.
"How he was as a father was exactly the same as how he was as a grandfather.
"If you asked the kids who their father was they would say my dad's name. He brought them up.
"We're just overwhelmed," she says.
Mr Brown says the certificates are given very rarely with only one or two presentations a year.
That emphasises how brave and selfless Mr Wiki was, he says.
"It's a story of the greatest sacrifice.
"It would be wonderful if Jack were with us to celebrate the life of his grandchildren and the outcome of his integrity."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you wear a lifejacket when you are on the water - no matter what vessel you are in?