When Dallas Adams said his final farewells to his dad after a diving tragedy almost two years ago, he pressed forward with a hongi and whispered in his ear: "I'll make you proud."

That was as the whanau went through the tangihanga of Edward Mark Adams - a 56-year-old father of five known to friends as Ed - who had died while diving at Pourerere on the Central Hawke's Bay coast on November 23, 2014.

In September 2016, 32-year-old eldest son Dallas has been ticking off the boxes as he progresses towards a BA in Maori Studies at EIT, and also next Wednesday's result of an election in which he has stood for the student board.

But that determination has taken another step this week as he draws on a coroner's findings which in part told him what he already knew - that his dad had had a few beers and possibly would still be here today if he hadn't then gone diving.

Advertisement

The news that stunned him was, however, that tests had shown his dad had 159mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, over three times the current adult drink-driving limit.

"I was shocked," he said, after reading the report.

Shocked as he may be, he now wants to help spread a "don't drink and dive" message, saying he wants to make sure that something positive comes from the passing of his father.

"I'd love to do something as a legacy to my dad," he says.

It wasn't that his dad was anything exceptional when it came to drinking.

Originally from Whangarei, Ed Adams had been a hard worker, a storeman at Enza and then over the last 10 years or so at the No1 Shoe Warehouse national distribution centre in Whakatu.

Twelve-hour days and six- or seven-day weeks hadn't been unusual, and diving was the hobby he would get into whenever possible. In the circumstances that might have been once a month, or twice if he was lucky, when mates would come around to pick him up and head off in pursuit of a few paua, mussels and kina to stock the freezer, not to mention provide the necessaries for making - with some panache - such things as paua fritters.

He would enjoy a beer or two after work or on his days off, and according to evidence from Tarn Ransfield - with whom he was diving and who he had known just a few months - he had a couple of bottles during their nine holes of golf on the morning of November 23, 2014, and a couple more as they drove to the beach.

Stubbies of his favourite Tui, as it turns out. Dallas, who wasn't there at the time and had only been diving with his father once or twice, got the rest of the box later and "bowled them off for him".

On reflection, it was a symbolic moment - drinking the beers "after" the diving expedition, something he wishes his dad had done.

"A lot of Maori men like to have a couple before they jump into the water, instead of after," he says. "It's just common sense, it comes down to self-discipline, really.

"If my dad hadn't been drinking before going diving, he would still be here."