Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Shark victim named

Adam Strange of Muriwai. Photo / Supplied
Adam Strange of Muriwai. Photo / Supplied

The victim of a fatal shark attack in Muriwai this afternoon was an award-winning television and short film director.

Local father-of-one Adam Strange, 46, has been described by family as a "glorious" person.

In a statement release tonight, they said: "The family are grieving the loss of a glorious and great father, husband and friend.

"We are in deep shock and are still trying to contact overseas family members, so discretion and privacy would be appreciated until the family are ready to make any further statements.''

Mr Strange's wife Meg was being comforted by friends and neighbours, many who bought flowers to their Muriwai home.

The couple had a baby daughter.

In a biography on his website, Mr Strange said one of his short films, Aphrodite's Farm, set on a dairy farm in the 1930s, had been in 10 international film festivals in seven countries and last year won the Crystal Bear award for Best Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival.

He was also a finalist in the global Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and the London International Awards.

Mr Strange began making television commercials in 1995 and went on to work as a director for Silver Screen Productions, in Auckland, for more than 10 years.

His work took him all around the world he says on the website, citing Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, the US and Europe as some of the places he has worked in.

In his biography he describes his love of the outdoors and spending time with his family.

"When I get a spare five minutes, I like to make a fruit smoothy, surf some big waves out on the West Coast, point my skis down a mountain with Meg, haul my mountain bike up and down a few hills, drink some Pinot while scratching away at a film script."

A witness has described seeing a "huge" shark kill Mr Strange off Muriwai Beach on Auckland's west coast this afternoon.

Police have confirmed they shot and hit the shark, believed to be a great white, but said it swam away.

Pio Mose watched the attack unfold about 1.30pm while fishing with a group of men on the rocks between Maori Bay and Muriwai Beach.

He saw the "huge" shark attack a man alone swimming from the bay back to the beach about 50 metres from where he was standing.

"All of a sudden there was blood everywhere."

The man struggled with the shark before it swam away. He was keeping his head above the water before the shark returned.

"I yelled at him to swim to the rocks. There was blood everywhere. The water was red. It's pretty scary."

He said after the second attack three or four other sharks came to the area.

Mr Mose and the other fisherman watched as the shark took the man's body out to sea and when lifeguards eventually arrived they directed them to where the group of sharks were.

The man's body was later retrieved.

"It's awful - it's scary like a nightmare to me. I was shaking, scared, panicked," said Mr Mose.

He said he had never seen sharks in the area in the three years he'd been fishing in that spot.

"All I was thinking was I wanted to jump in the water and help but I didn't want to get attacked by a shark too."

Mr Mose said those who went out to retrieve the man's body fired about six shots at the shark.

POLICE SHOT AT SHARK

A member of the public called police to report a man under attack by a shark at 1.24pm.

Police raced to the scene by road and the Eagle helicopter was also dispatched.

Eagle crew members spotted the shark while it was still near the man's body. A source told the Herald the Eagle stayed above the shark so police in the IRB could locate it.

Inspector Shawn Rutene confirmed police shot at the shark, measuring about 12-14 feet long, but could not say how many times.

The officer was out on the water in an IRB with three lifeguards - and Mr Rutene said one of them saw a second shark. It was unclear whether the second shark had been involved in the attack.

He said after being shot the shark "rolled away", but refused to say whether it was still attacking the man at the time.

Mr Rutene said the victim was a local man. His family were "devastated" and his wife was being supported by Victim Support and police at the scene.

VICTIM WELL KNOWN TO MURIWAI LIFEGUARDS

Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service chairman Tim Jago fought back tears as he spoke about the fatal incident.

He said the dead man was well known to Muriwai lifeguards - including those who tried desperately to save his life.

Mr Jago would not go into the specific details about what the lifeguards on the IRB with police saw, but he said it was "traumatising".

The lifeguards were young, and were being offered support and counselling.

He said it was unusual for sharks to be at Muriwai, especially one this size.

"This is something completely shocking," he said.

All beaches on Auckland's west coast had been closed until further notice. The shark responsible for the attack had not been located.

"They've got every 'beach closed' sign they can get their hands on," said Mr Jago

GREAT WHITE

Police believe the shark was likely to be a great white.

Dr Malcolm Francis, a NIWA Principal Scientist who studies sharks, told One News that based on the reports it is likely the attack was by a great white shark.

He said there are few other species that grow to 12-foot long - believed to be the length of the Muriwai shark.

He said great whites are known in the area and it is likely the shark mistook the person swimming as a seal.

Muriwai Beach is closed to the public until further notice.

FACT BOX: FATAL SHARK ATTACKS


• The last possible death from a shark attack in New Zealand was in Whangamata in December 2009, when a capsized kayaker was bitten by what was thought to be a great white. A coroner ruled drowning was the cause of death and said it was unknown whether the kayaker was attacked before or after dying.

• The most recent confirmed fatal attack was in 1976, when a spearfisher was killed by what was thought to be a bronze whaler at Te Kaha in the Bay of Plenty.

• Fatal shark attacks are rare, with 15 fatal attacks since records began in 1837.

• Great white sharks are the most common killers. They are responsible for 11 of the fatal attacks in New Zealand in which the species has been identified.

• Other fatal attacks have been carried out by bronze whalers and mako sharks.

• Most victims were swimming, a quarter were snorkelling and the rest were either standing in shallows or surfing.

• Non-fatal shark attacks are relatively common in New Zealand, with one to two every year in recent years.

• Not all shark attacks are recorded. A total of 44 unprovoked non-fatal attacks have been recorded in the last 150 years.

Sources: Te Ara, Department of Conservation, Herald archives

A DECADE OF SHARK ATTACKS IN NZ


March 2012
Opunake, Taranaki
Auckland surfer Peter Garrett suffered a gash to his calf when he was bitten by a 1.2m to 1.5m shark, which could have been a bronze whaler.

April 2011
Snapper Point, Nelson
Nelson surfer Laine Hobson, 41, suffered a punctured hand when he was attacked by a 2m shark, thought to be a bronze whaler.

February 2010
Oreti Beach, Invercargill
Lydia Ward, 14, was attacked by a shark which ripped though her wetsuit, biting her hip, after she stepped on it. She fought it off with her boogie board. The shark was thought to be a broad-nosed sevengill.

December 2009
Clark Island, Whangamata
Ngaruawahia man Maurice Bede Philips, 24, died after a shark attack when his kayak capsized. A coroner found drowning was the cause of death, but he could have drowned either before or after he was attacked by a shark, identified as a great white from bite marks.

January 2009
Tukituki River mouth, near Hastings
Hastings nurse Greg Sims, 49, had a chunk of his leg ripped out by what was thought to be a broad-nosed sevengill shark. He fashioned a tourniquet from his towel to stop the bleeding.

December 2008
Maraetai Beach, Auckland
Ken Lindberg was savaged by a shark which attacked his ankle as he set a fishing net. He needed four stitches to repair his Achilles tendon and 10 stitches above his ankle. The shark was likely a bronze whaler.

December 2006
Raglan, Auckland
Ten-year-old Elliot Paerata-Reid, the son of broadcaster Melanie Reid, was bitten while surfing at Manu Bay. He suffered cuts to his foot which required stitches.

February 2004
Karitane, near Dunedin
Surfer Chris Blair, 14, punched a shark in the eye after it bit into his thigh while straddling his board about 100m offshore. He needed eight stitches. The shark was thought to be a broad-nosed sevengill.

February 2003
Bench Island, Foveaux Strait
Scuba diver Alistair Kerr, 44, was attacked by a mako shark as he was about to climb onto a boat. He suffered severe lacerations as the shark tore at him several times.

December 1999
Oreti Beach, Invercargill
Three Invercargill teenagers were attacked by a broad-nosed sevengill shark in the surf. It severed the ulna artery of 13-year-old Jenny McDowell's left arm, which was bit to the bone. It also bit the hand of Genna Hayward, 13, and the leg of Tim Wild, who suffered six puncture wounds.


Were you at Muriwai or do you know anything about the incident? Please send your story, photos or video here.


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