Blowhole claims fisherman

CARYN WIGMORE
Last updated 05:00 06/11/2012
Blowhole
SAFETY WARNINGS: The blowhole at Muriwai Beach where Henderson man Kovati Vaoga died last week.

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Warning signs are being made after a man fell off algae-covered rocks and drowned at Muriwai Beach on October 30.

Staff at Auckland Council Parks are having the signs built and are investigating ways of eradicating the slippery moss following the death of 21-year-old Kovati Vaoga from Henderson.

This was the third time someone had fallen from the rocks in the past few months.

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

Surf lifesavers recovered his body about two hours later close to where he fell in.

A man in his 30s slipped on a wet rock and tumbled four metres into a blowhole during October.

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," he says.

"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," he says.

"When we were there yesterday we were skating on it. 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 who was not wearing a lifejacket.

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.

He says a revamped emergency callout system worked like clockwork.

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