Kaipara widow: 'Lord, please help me be strong'

Kaipara boating victim Fonua Taufa has been remembered as "the most humble man". Photo / Facebook
Kaipara boating victim Fonua Taufa has been remembered as "the most humble man". Photo / Facebook

"Lord, please help me to be strong."

Those are words a heartbroken wife has posted on social media after learning her husband Fonua Taufa was one of the seven men who died in the Kaipara charter boat tragedy on Saturday afternoon.

Just a week ago Debbie Taufa posted a picture of her standing behind her husband with her hands on his shoulders.

The post was meet with comments from friends and family who jokingly described the couple as Romeo and Juliet and a "beautiful couple".

Today her post carried another picture of the smiling couple - but it was accompanied with the heartbreaking words "Lord, please help me to be strong."

Taufa was with a group of Pacific Islander friends who were out on the Francie charter boat which failed to make it back to shore on Saturday. An eight man is still missing, presumed drowned.

Three others were rescued.

Tongan cousins Alipate 'Pate' Manumu'a and Sunia 'Junior' Ungo'unga, skipper Bill McNatty and Tevita Tangi, also know as David, are among the dead.

Messages of condolence and heartbreak have been following in for all of the victims.

Tangi's sister Rosita Tangi wrote "I love you David" and posted a picture of her brother as the stunned South Auckland pasifika community rallied in grief around families coming to terms with the shocking tragedy.

Tevita, a former Tangoroa College pupil, had previously worked at a Manukau night club as a bar bouncer and is survived by his wife and children.

Alice Prescott described him as "the most humble man who barely had a voice at family function".

Flowers on the flag pole at the Kaipara Cruising and Sportfishing Club in Helensville to honour the drowned fishermen. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Flowers on the flag pole at the Kaipara Cruising and Sportfishing Club in Helensville to honour the drowned fishermen. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Vahefonua Methodist Mission Church financial secretary Paula Taumoepeau said his members had been speaking with the victim's families and were today to organise counsellors for those overwhelmed with grief.

"I had to talk to a few people yesterday, even people overseas, and we're doing all we can to support the families of those that lost their lives ... our presbyters and ministers are preparing for the time when the bodies will be released and we understand that the coroner won't be able to do anything until today or tomorrow."

In the meantime church members were rallying around the families with prayers and support.

He said the victim's families as well as the rest of the Tongan community were shocked by the deaths as going out fishing was the norm as they were used to going out fishing and finding food for their families.

The Francie charter boat which capsized in the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Facebook
The Francie charter boat which capsized in the Kaipara Harbour. Photo / Facebook

"We come from the islands where most of our meat is fish from the sea ... some of them carry on that kind of life here and this is part of the support for their family."

Taumoepeau said it had been a horrific year for the Tongan community after five Tongans were killed in a horrific car crash in the Bay of Plenty in August.

"It's another sad situation for Tongans, there were five who died earlier this year in Tauranga and the Tongan community put on services and support around those families.

"It's just another tragedy that we have to deal with and support the people that experience the loss and of course it's a great shock to everybody."

- NZ Herald

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