The family of Colin McCormick, whose body was found in Lake Rotoiti yesterday, say they are grateful to have closure and will spend some quiet time reflecting on his life, but will return to the lake in future.
Mr McCormick, 48, from Auckland, went missing after he jumped into the lake near Otaramarae January 4 to retrieve his hat that had blown off while he was heading to Manupirua Springs hot pools with his partner and 9-year-old son.
Described as a strong swimmer, Mr McCormick was wearing a lifejacket but it fell off after he dived into the lake.
His partner threw him a rope, but he could not reach it after the boat was blown away from him by strong winds.
Police found his body about 7am yesterday and he was taken to shore on the Rotorua Coastguard launch about 9.10am.
His death has been referred to the Coroner.
It was a sombre mood on the jetty at Otaramarae as the family gathered to watch Mr McCormick's body taken from the launch to a waiting hearse.
Mr McCormick's brother and family spokesman, Gavin McCormick, said the family were pleased he had been found and would now spend some quiet time together to discuss funeral arrangements and how they would support his brother's partner and son.
"It's good to have that closure," he said.
"But, it's like a double whammy really, when he first went missing and now that he's back.
"The week has been tough and I said to the guys we can liken it to a tangi, Maori and Pacific Islanders probably grieve better than anyone, but it's a week that has been full of emotion, lots of laughs and lots of tears.
"But, we have the result now and it's on with life for the rest of us and looking after Colin's partner and looking after Colin's son, and each other."
He praised everyone involved in the search: police, Search and Rescue, Coastguard, volunteers, local people and iwi, "everyone involved has just been extraordinary".
"We are walking away from here with good relationships with these people."
He said the family would definitely be back to the lake in future.
"I can't speak any more highly of the community out here, every single touch point we've had has been great."
Rotorua police Search and Rescue team leader, constable Colin Fraser, said it was good to get Mr McCormick back to his family after a long search.
"It gives them closure and a chance to move on.
"We've had a lot of help from the local community who have rallied around the family, bringing baking and coffee to us and opening up their homes, plus the Coastguard, local Harbourmaster and BayTrust Rescue helicopter, Rotorua Land SAR, who have been out here every morning searching.
"It's ended up with a good result."
He said police would keep in contact with the family and help them in any way they could.
"The Coroner will take over from here."
Ngati Pikiao and Te Arawa kaumatua Te Ariki Morehu lifted the rahui (ban) on the area and blessed the Coastguard launch used to bring Mr McCormick's body to shore.
"We are pleased he has been found," Mr Morehu said.
"Of course, a rahui is put in place out of respect and is a traditional Maori custom.
"They did not know where the body was for a while and it needed to be in place so he could also be found."
Mr Morehu said he was disappointed a few people did not respect the ban and were on the lake in and around the search area.
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