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Signs to go up near rocks

CARYN WIGMORE
Last updated 11:43 01/11/2012
ROCKS

COMMON SIGHT: Fishing is a regular pastime at Muriwai Beach regardless of the conditions.

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Warning signs are being made after a man fell off algae-covered rocks and drowned at Muriwai Beach on Tuesday.

Staff at Auckland Council Parks are having the signs built and are investigating ways of eradicating the slippery moss following the death of Kovati Vaoga, aged 21, from West Auckland.

This marks the third time someone has fallen from the rocks in recent months.

Mr Vaoga was walking along coastal rocks by "gannet rock" to reach his fishing spot when he slipped and fell into the water about noon.

Surf lifesavers recovered his body about two hours later in the gut, an area close to where he fell in.

Earlier last month a man aged in his 30s slipped on a wet rock and tumbled 4m into a blowhole.

Another person had to be rescued after falling down a blowhole at the beach in September.

Members of Muriwai volunteer lifeguard service met council parks staff urgently on Tuesday to discuss safety measures.

Lifeguard service chairman Tim Jago says barriers could be considered "but in my experience people either ignore them or think they are handrails". He urges people to take care.

"There's an algae growth which has been coming back in force over the last five years and it's now at the stage where it's absolutely treacherous.

"People think they're walking on grass and the next minute think they're walking on ice," he says.

The wet rocks are sprouting long, green moss which resembles oxygen weed and dangerous black moss "that's impossible to see".

"When we were there yesterday we were skating on it," Mr Jago says.

"We were down on all fours trying to get from place to place in haste."

Muriwai residents, surf lifesaving crews, the surf school, police and Eagle helicopter, the Westpac rescue helicopter, and Land Search and Rescue staff joined the search for Mr Vaoga.

He was not wearing a life jacket.

Distressed family members were seen wailing on the beach during the search.

"They were imploring the lifeguards not to give up until they found him," Mr Jago says.

Grieving relatives could spend some time with the recovered body and have some closure.

He says a revamped emergency callout system worked like clockwork for emergency crews.

"The right people responded immediately."

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- Norwest News

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