Church is left reeling

By Kiri Gillespie

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Tauranga's Christian community has suffered another blow, as details emerge of a sad link between the drowning of a Norwegian woman and the search for a missing Katikati man.

Vivian Telfer, 54, drowned at Mount Maunganui's main beach on Saturday after getting into trouble while swimming with family.

During her stay, the New Zealand-born woman had been helping, through her Tauranga church, to give aid to the family of a man who went missing at sea last week.

Fellow Tauranga Seventh-day Adventist Church member Tim Mair, 52, has not been seen since a rogue wave capsized the boat he and four family members were in at Bowentown Heads.

A church spokesman told the Bay of Plenty Times Mr Mair and Ms Telfer were active members of the church family.

"We are totally devastated," said the spokesman, who would not be identified.

"Because it's been a while since the Telfer family were in Tauranga, we are involved in our worship service and for this to happen, and just as they were due back, it's been absolutely devastating for us."

Ms Telfer and Mr Mair were church members before Ms Telfer married Tauranga man Bruce Telfer and moved to Norway 10 years ago.

The church has since been supporting both families with prayer, cooking, baking and accommodation.

It is understood members of the Telfer family were staying with the Mair family in Katikati. When contacted on Tuesday, the Mair family declined to comment.

The spokesman said some church members also had a link to the Bethlehem College tragedy that claimed the lives of former student Caitlin Dickson and college community members Bruce and Grace Johnston.

The three were in Kenya on a Christian mission when they were killed in a van crash on January 15.

"Everyone is in total shock," the spokesman said.

A private funeral for Ms Telfer will be held today.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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