Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Kaipara Harbour tragedy: Birthday party swapped for mourning

Sunia 'Junior' Ungo'unga (L) and Alipate 'Pate' Manumu'a, two of the seven men confirmed dead in the sinking of the Francie at Kaipara Harbour. Photos / Supplied
Sunia 'Junior' Ungo'unga (L) and Alipate 'Pate' Manumu'a, two of the seven men confirmed dead in the sinking of the Francie at Kaipara Harbour. Photos / Supplied

Families of two of the men who died Kaipara charter boat tragedy have gathered in Auckland today - a day that should have been one of celebration.

Tongan cousins Alipate 'Pate' Manumu'a and Sunia 'Junior' Ungo'unga died along with five others when the Francie charter boat unsuccessfully tried to cross the bar in the Kaipara Harbour.

The cousins, both in their 30s, were fathers.

Manumu'a had three children. He should have been at home with them today celebrating as his oldest turned seven.

Ungo'unga had four children.

Instead of a birthday party the families of both men have gathered at Ungo'unga's home in Manurewa following the tragedy.

Relatives told the Herald how the men would go fishing each weekend and charter the Francie with friends about once a month.

It is understood some of the men on the boat knew each other through their jobs at Independent Liquor, where Ungo'unga was also employed.

Manumu'a was a glass worker, his brother told the Herald.

The Muriwai coast line was dotted with debris from the charter fishing vessel Francie that sank yesterday. Photo / Supplied
The Muriwai coast line was dotted with debris from the charter fishing vessel Francie that sank yesterday. Photo / Supplied

There were close to 40 cars at the Ungo'unga's Manurewa property today with mourners gathered on the street, front yard and inside the home.

Ungo'unga's daughter said the family were too upset to speak aboutht the tragedy at this time.

Tributes to the men were being posted to social media today, mainly written in Tongan.

Messages of "ofa atu", Tongan for "best wishes" or "I love you", were being posted to Facebook, along with photos of the men.

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- NZ Herald

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