Kaipara Harbour tragedy: Search for lost fisherman called off

The Francie charter boat capsized on the Kaipara Harbour on Saturday.

The Francie charter boat capsized on the Kaipara Harbour on Saturday.

Police have called off the search for the final missing person, Taulagi Afamasaga, from the Kaipara Harbour tragedy.

Seven dead have already been recovered from the sinking of The Francie fishing charter boat as it tried to cross the Kaipara bar on Saturday.

Just three survived of the 11 on board.

Inspector Willi Fanene, right, and Inspector Mark Fergus, left, update media after seven people died in a fishing boat ...
Fiona Goodall

Inspector Willi Fanene, right, and Inspector Mark Fergus, left, update media after seven people died in a fishing boat tragedy on the Kaipara Harbour.

Afamasaga was the only one not yet found.

READ MORE:
Five dead, three unaccounted for after boat capsizes in Kaipara Harbour
Kaipara Harbour disaster: Search continues for missing person
Kaipara Harbour disaster: Tragic boatie's daughter studying to become a skipper
Pilot tells of dramatic rescue of two people from the water in Kaipara Harbour

Police said Afamasaga has "well passed the survivability expectations in the conditions."

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew attends after the Francie capsized in the Kaipara Harbour on November 26.
SUPPLIED

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew attends after the Francie capsized in the Kaipara Harbour on November 26.

They have now called off the search for him.

"We have reached the point where there is no further information to support the continuation of an air and land search, and the formal search and rescue operation will be suspended today at midday."

Waitemata police Inspector Mark Fergus said the police Eagle helicopter conducted further aerial sweeps of the coastline and up around the Kaipara Harbour on Wednesday night.

The Francie sank as it tried to enter Kaipara Harbour after a fishing charter. 

Ad Feedback

The boat requested a 60-minute watch as it began to cross the bar, meaning the Coastguard would contact them again after 60 minutes to make sure they were safe.

By 3.02pm when The Francie still hadn't been heard from, the alert was raised.

Fergus said: "We have also consulted with specialists, including medical specialists, and sadly we have now well passed the survivability expectations in the conditions."

He said the decision to formally suspend the Search and Rescue operation wasn't easy.

"Activity is continuing to find The Francie boat, and based on our investigations over the past few days, we believe we have narrowed down the area that the capsize occurred."

He said police intend to conduct aerial searches and possibly some underwater or sub-surface searching.

"The tides, currents and sea conditions in the area where the boat capsized are notoriously difficult.

"We still hope to be able to return Mr Afamasaga to his family and we continue to support them through this terrible time."

Helicopter captain Paul Robinson battled high winds, big swells and poor visibility as he and his crew rescued two survivors from Saturday's Kaipara bar fishing boat tragedy.

Robinson said the two people he rescued from the water were clinging to a small piece of debris and struggling to remain afloat.

"We retrieved those persons from the water. They were alive and we winched them up to the helicopter and transported them to the beach.

"We continued searching and retrieved a number of others who were unfortunately deceased."

Captain Tim Burfoot, the chief investigator for the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, said an investigation into the sinking was progressing well.

"We have a team of four investigators currently working in the Auckland area. They have carried out a number of interviews and more are planned."

The team was likely to remain in the area until the end of the week.

Anyone who had information on The Francie, especially those who were on board on previous occasions, was asked to make contact by registering their details on the home page of the commission's website.

Burfoot said the information would be treated in strict confidence by investigators.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Fleeing motorcyclist dies

The serious crash occurred on the corner of Buckland Road and Royton Avenue.

Speeding motorcyclist killed in police pursuit after failing to stop in south Auckland.

Funding to support 23,000 new homes

Prime Minister Bill English has pledged a $600m housing injection.

The Government is pouring $600m into infrastructure that will support 23,300 new Auckland homes.

Anika Moa tours songs for bubbas

Anika Moa Chop Chop Hiyaaa tour in Pukekohe

The singer-songwriter's Chop Chop Hiyaaaa tour is a delightful way to entertain preschoolers and parents alike.

Girl, 9, drowns in bath video

Yearbury speaks to media outside the house where the 9-year-old girl drowned in a bathtub.

An Auckland family is "really raw at the moment" after a young child drowned at home.

Wellington

Corgis worth a queen's ransom video

Jack and Joyce Luo spent more than $20,000 to bring their beloved welsh corgis Amy and Lucky from Beijing when they ...

Couple shell out $20,000 to bring their beloved dogs to join them in NZ.

Car buried by slip

The buried Mazda in Palliser Rd, Roseneath, on Sunday morning.

Owner was at a party when he discovered his Mazda 6 under a pile of dirt.

Kapiti calls for its own hospital

K Gurunathan says: "We have particular needs with more than 26 per cent of our population over 65 years old. You can't ...

Nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition, citing "critical need" for better care.

Super-sized Savea headache video

Julian Savea will be feeling the heat to retain his position now that Vince Aso, right, is back.

Super Rugby's top try-scorer is on the plane to South Africa and it might spell trouble for Julian Savea.

Canterbury

Floodwater breaches home video

230717 NEWS Photo: Joseph Johnson/Stuff
Deborah Buchanan stands in her water damaged house looking located in Clarendon ...

Resident returns to find floodwater has washed through her quake-damaged home.

Dad dies on Coast farm

Bryan Edmonds leaves behind his partner Alana Tait and two sons Rawiri,1, and 11-month-old Tipene.

Bryan Edmonds stopped for a glass of water. An hour later he was found dead on the West Coast dairy farm.

Immigration U-turn?

Prime Minister Bill English won't rule it backing down on the proposed changes.

The Government is likely to scrub out major changes to immigration law that were announced in April.

Fire installs causing concern

The chimney cavity where a fire broke out in a Queenstown house early Sunday morning.

Builders failing to install multi-fuel fireplaces to NZ standards responsible for a spate of fires.

Waikato

Curfew to curb boy racers? video

More than 100 residents, boy racers, police and regional council representatives turned out for the meeting on Onion ...

Boy racers and residents met face to face to talk about rising tensions in Te Kowhai.

Spending questioned

Waikato District Health Board chief executive Nigel Murray.

Waikato DHB remains tight-lipped over private meeting regarding chief executive Nigel Murray's expenses.

'Kiwi culture' turns deadly video

Making a summer splash at locations such as the Raglan footbridge is seen as a Kiwi tradition but the consequences can ...

Four suffered life-changing injury diving off a wharf. Now, councils are taking action.

Hooves on the beat

Senior Constable Bill Eivers and Ali are known to patrol Benneydale together.

Senior Constable Bill Eivers has been patrolling on horseback for the past 15 years.

Taranaki

High steaks for cattle breeders

Jacqueline and Robin Blackwell have a friendly rivalry.

It's just as much about bragging rights at home as it is about national recognition for the Blackwell family.

NZ's first virtual medical centre

Dr Lance O'Sullivan is running the pilot project in Patea.

Patea's only doctor left, so the small town is now embracing new virtual technology to find a solution to its vacancy.

Author writes for herself

The book follows the story of a New Zealander who goes over to fight in the Vietnam war.

"I like to write what I like to read, and I figure if I'd like to read it than other people will want to read it as well."

Light pole hit-and-run

Police were alerted to the incident and located the driver a short time later.

The pole was left blocking an intersection.

Manawatu

"Can-do" Kiwi laid to rest

22072017 news photo DAVID UNWIN/STUFF
Colin Stevenson's funeral. A Traction Engine called "Dixie Flyer" takes Colin's ...

 Colin Stevenson, the man who "put Tokomaru on the map" died aged 87, and was ferried to the cemetery by steam-powered traction engine.

Miles in memory 

Crystal Johnston from Bulls and Liz Peters from Palmerston North cycling for 24 hours in a Sands Manawatu-Horowhenua ...

Two mums and three dads cycled on spin bikes for up to 30 hours as part of the fundraiser for lost babies.

Millions spent fixing police cars

A police car comes to a final halt after crashing through a Hamilton property in June.

More than $8 million has been spent fixing damaged police cars in the past three years.

No random drug tests 

Only following a police shooting do officers undergo drug and alcohol testing. (File photo).

Police are only given drug and alcohol testing if they fire a gun during an incident.

Nelson

Fake News and tinfoil hats

12052017 News Photo: TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ - MP Peter Dunne speaks at Cafe Agora in Hamilton. 4 members of the audience ...

OPINION: As Trump and his supporters bang on about "alternative facts", the concept is very much alive and well here in the provinces.

Nelson reign supreme

22072017 NEWS PHOTO MARTIN DE RUYTER/ STUFF

Nelson players and support staff after winning the  Nelson Bays Division 1 ...

Nelson turn it on to hammer Wanderers in Nelson Bays club rugby final. 

Stage set for Ma's Place fundraiser

The Split Apple Rockers Andrew Palmer, Dave Baker, Craig Starrenburg, Ernie Tarling and John Foes-Lamb are due to ...

Support group Ma's Place to benefit from proceeds of variety concert.

Breaking up bad

It all starts innocently enough.

In this week's Middle-aged Man Stu Hunt combs through the wreckage of his dating history.

Marlborough

Renwick denied 'fairytale' finish

Moutere captain Baxter Wilson holds up the champion of champions trophy.

Moutere ensured there would be no happy ending to Renwick's "fairytale" season with a 22-19 grand final victory.

Old Boys get job done

Marlborough College Old Boys celebrate with their supporters after beating Moutere in the division two final at ...

Marlborough College Old Boys gained sweet revenge for their 2016 final defeat when they overcame Moutere 27-15.

Chinese keen on pricey NZ crays

New Zealand crayfish is a premium product in China where it can fetch $1000 a kilo.

When it comes to high end gourmet goods the Chinese have a growing appetite for New Zealand wine, water and crayfish.

Escaping the Beast of Blenheim

Stewart Murray Wilson talks to journalist Harrison Christian while fishing at the Whanganui river mouth.

Even though he lives far away under strict conditions, Stewart Murray Wilson still haunts his former partner.

South Canterbury

A metre of snow in one day gallery

Staff clear snow from the base building at Mt Dobson on Sunday.

South Canterbury's ski fields will be primed for the rest of the season after huge snow dumps.

Response praised gallery video

A car stuck in the middle of Evans St with two occupants. Two police officers pushed the car off the road.

Timaru mayor praises response to storm, as attention turns to the clean up effort.

Working in the wild weather video

Lance Corporal Gerald Hart, Third Combat Support Services Battalion member, left, and Staff Sergeant Jason Segal look at ...

Hundreds of people worked tirelessly behind the scenes during SC's wild weekend.

Chickens lost in flood video

The Tin Shed owner Lesley Limbe at her property in Rangitata, which was hit by extensive flooding.

Retailer left questioning why her property was hit so badly by rapidly rising floodwaters.

Southland

"The culinary world has just lost a gentleman"

Scott Richardson, pictured here in 2015, in his role as a catering and hospitality teacher at Southland Boys' High School.

Well-known Invercargill chef Scott Richardson died this morning in Dunedin Hospital.

'Business as usual'

Aparima College principal Kaye Day. The latest Governmental report on the College said "urgent" improvement in ...

A troubled Southland secondary school is to continue as usual, despite its leadership coming under fire.

Hotel facing potential delays

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey in front of the proposed site of the ILT's new multi-million ...

The Invercargill Licensing Trust has unearthed some speed bumps in its plans to build a new inner city hotel.

Defending champions on fire

Wensley's Fire cyclists from left to right, Nick Barclay, Marty Jillings, Ben Coley and Tai-Anne Blair set off in the ...

The fire service team has confirmed its the fastest emergency service in Invercargill.

Ad Feedback