Rahui closes drowning spot

By Imran Ali

A young man who drowned at a popular swimming spot in the Far North was a Pacific islander.

The 19-year-old, understood to be Samoan, was swimming with friends in the Lily Pond at Waitangi River on Tuesday afternoon when he drowned.

Northland police iwi liaison officer Paddy Whiu said the dead man was on holiday when he and his friends decided to go for a swim.

"He was seen to disappear in the water and efforts to bring him to the surface were unsuccessful," Mr Whiu said.

The man was eventually removed from the water, but efforts to revive him by a St John paramedic failed.

Police spoke to family members at the scene and enquiries into the circumstances surrounding his death were being investigated.

His name has not been released by police.

Mr Whiu could not confirm whether the 19-year-old was visiting from Auckland, or where he was staying in Northland.

Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland has been notified of the death and is likely to hold an inquest.

A three-day rahui has been placed by Ngati Rehia kaumatua Waimutu Te Whiu at the drowning spot.

The Far North District Council locked a gate to an esplanade reserve at the end of Lily Pond Lane yesterday afternoon.

The gate will re-open either on Saturday or Sunday after the rahui has been lifted.

The council has asked the public to show respect for the deceased, his family and Ngati Rehia by not using the reserve or swimming hole while the rahui was in place.

It was the first drowning in Northland this year.

Five people drowned in the region last year.

- Northern Advocate

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