Tauranga man drowns at wedding photo spot

By Alice Lock

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Joseph Taurua Terrill with wife Anahera on their wedding day. Photo/supplied
Joseph Taurua Terrill with wife Anahera on their wedding day. Photo/supplied

A Tauranga man - who died at the Hawkes Bay beach where he posed for his wedding photo just seven months earlier - has been named.

Joseph Taurua Terrill was swimming on Tuesday afternoon before he got in to trouble and drowned in the high swells about 3pm.

Emergency services at the spot where a Tauranga man drowned in Hawkes Bay. Photo/Paul Taylor
Emergency services at the spot where a Tauranga man drowned in Hawkes Bay. Photo/Paul Taylor

The 51-year-old had recently moved to Napier from Tauranga. His death has been referred to the Coroner.

The ''love of his life" was left distraught as she watched her husband drown at a Marine Parade beach.

Close friend Stephen Eru said the man, who was born in Wairoa, had "always" been the single one but this year met the "love of his life".

"Whenever we hung out he was always single but one day he announced he had a lady coming around.

"He brought her to my house and showed her off. He was rapt and they were meant to be."

The couple were married at the church in Maraenui in April and had their wedding photos taken along Marine Parade.

"It was an amazing occasion ... It was so colourful and they were both so happy. They were devoted to one another from day one."

Mr Eru was shocked and could not believe that area of sea had taken his friend.

"We had been swimming there for years and the waves and sets that rolled in were huge and we were fine."

Yesterday he could not bring himself to even look at the ocean along Marine Parade.

"It is just so tragic, as he was such an approachable, intelligent and kind man who you could talk to for hours about everything and anything."

After the wedding the couple moved to Tauranga so the man could complete his studies and become a teacher.

"He was such an intelligent man who had already got up to level seven in Maori studies. He was studying at the Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and only came back to Hawke's Bay to have a two-month break over Christmas."

Mr Eru met the man at a Hastings church service six years ago.

"I went over and had a chat and we found we both loved God and nature and believed in the same things. We instantly clicked from the day he arrived."

Crowds gathered at the Hawkes Bay beach where a Tauranga man drowned. Photo/Paul Taylor
Crowds gathered at the Hawkes Bay beach where a Tauranga man drowned. Photo/Paul Taylor

The man had been working at an environment centre.

"He was helping out with the electrical stuff there but he did a lot for the community. He went on to help with the gardening at the local Maraenui Marae and the pottery club in Whitmore Park."

Another close friend, Charmaine Waihape, said the man held a lot of love and respect towards his wife and was very protective.

"They were the one couple you knew just loved being together. He loved walking his lady around the water and they did everything together."

Ms Waihape said his calm presence, wisdom and love would be missed by many.

Bethlehem Tertiary Institute Dean Andrew Smith said the man's death had significantly affected staff and students at the secondary teaching programme.

''We want to send his wife our condolences.''

He said the student group had rallied together and were sending a gift to the man's family.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand regional manager Charlie Cordwell said it was a tragic incident but with the cold temperatures and risk the water posed, any additional signage or equipment would not have made a difference.

"All beaches carry risks and our job is to implement preventive action. Our patrol do not start until November 13 and only so much can be done outside these times being a voluntary organisation."

Mr Cordwell said there is significant signage to indicate the dangers along Marine Parade beach.

"There are signs 400m apart along the beach and also around the Pacific Lifesaving Club, so in our opinion there is adequate signage."

With regards to safety equipment, Mr Cordwell said they had discussed the accessibility of lifebuoys with the Napier City Council.

"We felt unless somebody was trained to use them they would not have the positive effect desired."

A Water Safety New Zealand spokeswoman said in the 21 years since January 1996 there had been five drownings off Marine Parade in Napier.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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