Missing man battled to save boy

By Genevieve Helliwell

The daughter of a man missing after a boating accident has praised his courage and the bravery showed by three children involved.

Kaitlin Mair, the daughter of Katikati man Tim Mair, yesterday spoke out about the accident as the search for him entered its fifth day.

Mr Mair, 52, was swept away at Bowentown Heads on Monday after a rogue wave capsized the 20ft boat he was in.

Also on board was his 23-year-old daughter Kaitlin Mair, 15-year-old son, 7-year-old grandson, and a 14-year-old friend.

The four children swam to Matakana Island and were rescued by a passing boatie. Mr Mair has still not been found.

In an exclusive statement to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, Kaitlin Mair said she wanted to clarify the facts about the accident. She said her dad loved life.

"Dad was a generous man and had so much love for his family. He would not want to [be] hailed a hero.

"He merely displayed his true character as he fought to save the life of his beloved grandson.

"To clarify, the 20ft (6.1m) boat was capsized by a set of rogue waves while we were trawling on the bar. We were in the water for two hours before we swam to Matakana Island.

"The events that unravelled during this time (are) private. However I want to acknowledge the courage of dad and the teamwork and bravery displayed by the 15, 14 and 7-year-old was truly admiral. Dad would have been so proud and I know, he knows, we are safe.

"The love and support shown by the community has been overwhelming. We would like to thank all those involved in the search for dad to the many volunteers, family and friends. We are forever grateful.

"We would like to thank Search and Rescue volunteers, Coastguard (Waihi Beach), police, surf lifesaving club, volunteer fire brigade, mine rescue workers (Waihi), Trust Power TECT rescue helicopter and Andrew Osborn from the Hamilton police."

Mr Mair's ex-wife and brother, Peter Mair, said Tim and the group had been wake boarding out in the harbour and enjoying "a really nice family day out".

Afterward, the group began trawling on the bar.

This newspaper was told that the boat ended up side-on to the waves and was subsequently tipped over.

The Mair family said they did not wish to make any further comments.

Meanwhile, search teams and members of the Mair family continued their search yesterday.

Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said there was a possibility a vessel would be put into the water today to assist the land-search.

"We are weighing what our options are ... and we are keeping an open mind."

He predicted boaties would take to the water this weekend and he urged people to keep an eye out for Mr Mair and to phone police if they saw anything.

"Please call us and we can get assistance from the Coastguard or surf lifesaving club to head out and meet you and assess it."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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