'Firecracker of a mate' farewelled

By Yvonne Tahana

Friends say 'Addy' would have loved his final goodbye yesterday at the beach where a shark killed him.

Adam Strange's closest friends and family said goodbye with a bang at sunset last night, echoing a cheeky joke of long ago.

The 46-year-old - father of 2-year-old Indigo and husband to Meg - died last week after being attacked by a bronze whaler and a great white shark at Maori Bay.

Yesterday, hundreds gathered at the Muriwai Surf Club to celebrate the film-maker's life in a private affair.

Mr Strange's friends were determined to send their one-of-a-kind mate off in style.

As darkness fell, booms rang out on Muriwai Beach - believed to be firecrackers - as Mr Strange's coffin paused at the lifeguard station at the beach. The pyrotechnics reflected a "firecracker of a mate", said close friend Cam Sander.

Hundreds sat quietly on the beach as the coffin disappeared from sight.

Earlier in the afternoon, police and other emergency workers who had been involved in the aftermath of last Tuesday's attack gathered at the surf club - for the most part in boardies and jandals. Black was a rare colour here.

Younger surfers carried their boards, setting them down softly on the black sand as they waited for a convoy carrying Mr Strange's coffin to arrive late afternoon.

On the way into the club, George Maoate, 14, the last person to speak to Mr Strange, said he wanted to sing to the family during the service.

He intended it as a small token of his admiration of Mr Strange and a little gift to the grieving family.

"He lifted spirits. We need people who are [glass half-full] types, we need people like Adam," he said.

Friends told the Herald after the service that "Addy" would have loved the day, approving of every light touch, from the brief stop at Maori Bay his coffin made with the funeral procession, to the guard of honour en route built with surfboards.

Jeremy Bennett, 46, flew in from Seattle for the funeral. He had known Mr Strange for decades. In their group, Mr Strange was clearly the alpha male, Mr Bennett said.

"He's the one that paddles for the set, or jumps off the cliff." But he was also a renowned "carpark surfer" who had a genuine love for people.

His mate never failed to strike up a conversation with surfers who, first thing in the morning, probably had no desire to gab, Mr Bennett said.

"He'd cracked a nut that was their harsh exterior and this nougat [would be] flowing out ... and before you knew it you were meeting this fantastic guy who you would probably share some waves with, who was now another friend of Adam's."

Mr Sander, 47, who'd known Mr Strange since a young Adam had gone out with his sister as a teenager, said his mate was a character.

"For me, Addy is an infectious bugger and dangerous at the same time. He would always take you outside of your comfort zone."

Mr Strange was never afraid to scare the living daylights out of his mates.

Mr Sander said he had shared a story during the service from when the pair flatted.

"I was on the loo, quiet time, very small space but we had quite a big gap under the door. I heard a little bit of a rustle and the match - that was when double happies were around."

Last night he said goodbye to his firecracker of a mate.

Pair of sharks in fatal attack

A bronze whaler shark and a great white attacked Adam Strange, says the chairman of the Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service.

Tim Jago was in charge of co-ordinating the lifeguard response and had to formally identify the 46-year-old's body.

The two sharks involved were initially a bronze whaler and then a white pointer, he said.

At 1.15pm Mr Strange entered the water. "Almost immediately Adam was subjected to the first of two shark attacks by what we now know to have been a bronze whaler shark.

"It is apparent Adam unwittingly swam into one or more sharks feeding in shallow waters close to shore. Within a very short time - 90 seconds - Adam was subjected to a second and fatal shark attack, this time by a white pointer."

Mr Jago said that from the extent of Mr Strange's injuries, his death was almost instant.

The white pointer then carried the body 300 to 400m towards the main beach.

Two lifeguards attempted a rescue, driving an inflatable boat into the white pointer and clubbing it with a paddle. They realised Mr Strange was dead and decided it was too dangerous to stay because other sharks were in the area.

Soon after, two more rescue craft were deployed and police fired 12 shots at the shark, as it was still "harassing the body".

Mr Jago said an analysis of video footage gave him confidence the shots had killed the shark.

He said there there was only one previously documented case where a white pointer shark joined with a bronze whaler to attack a human.

- NZ Herald

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