A Porirua rugby sevens player drowned accidentally after cramping up in the sea off Wellington's south coast, a coroner has ruled.
Anare Nayacatoga, 26, who played for Porirua's Pacific Warriors sevens team and was the cousin of New Zealand sevens veteran Lote Raikabula, drowned while diving for shellfish with Taniela and Eddie Buakula near Seatoun in January last year.
In his findings released today, Coroner Garry Evans said the three men entered the water near Steeple Rock about 6.30pm on January 3 and swan about 50 metres off shore.
They had only been in the water five minutes when Taniela Buakula, who was further out than the other two, was called back to help Mr Nayacatoga who was yelling, ''Help me, help me, I'm cramping up.''
Taniela Buakula told his brother Eddie to swim for shore and get help. He then he grabbed Mr Nayacatoga's shirt and began pulling him towards a rock.
After a while, Mr Nayacatoga said he was okay so Mr Buakula let go and kept swimming. When he got to the rock, he turned around and could not see Mr Nayacatoga any more.
Eddie Buakula told police afterwards that he thought Mr Nayacatoga may have been caught in a rip.
Taniela Buakula said he and Mr Nayacatoga were both good swimmers and none of the men had been drinking that day.
His body was found by police divers at 10.16am the next day. It was some 10 to 15 metres off shore, near the end of Ludlam St, Seatoun.
Constable Carmen Stewart, of Wellington Police, said Mr Nayacatoga was not on any medication and had no history of mental health issues. There was nothing to suggest his death was the result of foul play.
Mr Nayacatoga, was in New Zealand from Fiji on an expired visa, she said. Lote Raikabula told The Dominion Post at the time that he had coached his cousin in the Porirua's Pacific Warriors sevens team.
Mr Evans said the court was not able to determine what caused Mr Nayacatoga's cramps as the family had refused an autopsy. ''In the circumstances, the court is left with the presumption of accidental drowning.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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