Kiwi drowns trying to save kids

Last updated 14:11 09/01/2013
Kelekolio Latu
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TRAGIC END TO RESCUE: Kelekolio Latu, who drowned in a lake near Melbourne.

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A grieving wife plans to change her one-year-old son's name to Kelekolio as a tribute to her husband, a New Zealander who drowned in a Melbourne lake while trying to save their daughter and nephew.

Kelekolio Latu, from Auckland, died on Sunday in Lysterfield Lake south east of Melbourne's CBD after noticing his 11-year-old daughter Theresa and a 12-year-old boy had got into difficulty after taking a dinghy on to the water.

The dinghy became entangled in weeds and although the children made it to shore friends who helped the rescue lost contact with Latu, whose body was recovered by search and rescue personnel later that day at 8.40pm.

"My one-year-old is exactly like him and his name is Pita, but now we are going change it to my husband's name because he reminds us of him," Manu Latu told the Berwick Leader newspaper.

The family went to the lake after attending a Tongan mass and had only been there 25 minutes before the tragedy unfolded.

"It was a very happy day for him, he wanted to go and take the kids and his nieces and nephews," Manu Latu said.

Arrangements were being made for relatives to fly from New Zealand for Latu's funeral while police were preparing a report of the incident for the coroner.

Latu brought his family across the Tasman almost four years ago and worked at a Melbourne printing business.

"He wanted to see if we could have a better life, he put a roof over the top of us and now he's gone," Manu Latu said.

Friends and loved one posted messages of condolence on Latu's Facebook page.

"Your life is a blessing. Your memory is a treasure. We love you beyond words and miss you beyond measure! Rest in peace Kelekolio Latu you will be forever in our hearts," wrote Rina Leka Tupou.

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