Man who died while diving near Kaikoura was a 'gentle soul taken so early'

William Tinna Viliamu, 41, died in a diving accident near Kaikoura on Sunday.
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William Tinna Viliamu, 41, died in a diving accident near Kaikoura on Sunday.

William Tinna Viliamu was a gentle giant.

The Christchurch man was a humble, cheeky man with a kind soul, who loved to share his passion for Te Reo with all.

The 41-year-old has been named as the diver who died near Kaikoura on Sunday.

Emergency services were called to Goose Bay, south of the town, as two bystanders performed CPR on the man before a Kaikoura Volunteer Fire Brigade crew arrived.

Firefighters continued CPR and used a defibrillator while they waited for a rescue helicopter, but Viliamu died before it arrived.

READ MORE: Man dies while diving at Goose Bay, Kaikoura

He was the soul mate and husband of Rena Viliamu, the proud father of Mahalia, Nikorima, Maia and Teoti, and grandfather of Theodore. To everyone else, he was an "instant friend to anyone he came in contact with", a Facebook post said.

The post received an outpouring of support, with nearly 200 tributes for the funny man with a big heart. Many noted his influence in the Maori community and his dedication to the language and culture.

"Thanks for being the cheerful and kind person you were to everyone. Such a great role model to all," one person wrote.

"Still hard to believe this gentle soul has been taken so early. He was such a happy man and was an asset to our tamariki."

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Known as Wira, he was always "so kind and patient and humble, and touched many lives". He was a "generous man who was full of integrity".

A funeral service for Viliamu was held on Thursday at Rehua Marae.

His death has been referred to the coroner.

 - Stuff

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