The new year has started tragically on the water in Northland with two suspected drownings in the first week of 2019.

About 8pm on Monday the body of a 65-year-old local man was recovered from Hokianga Harbour, less than three hours after he was reported missing.

He had earlier gone fishing in a small boat off Motukaraka Pt, on the north side of the Hokianga west of Kohukohu.

Police, Hokianga Coastguard, Coastguard Air Patrol and local residents mounted a search, finding the man's body just as light was fading.


Local hapū Ngāi Tūpoto ki Motukaraka has placed a rāhui on the Tapuwae River until further notice. The rāhui covers the Matawera, Tapuwae, Motukaraka Island and Te Wharau areas of Motukaraka.

Police have yet to officially identify the man but the hapū has named him as Bruce Ngapera. Arrangements for the tangi had yet to be finalised at edition time yesterday.
The Coroner will make an official ruling on his cause of death.

The suspected drowning comes just days after a 44-year-old died in the Bay of Islands.

The Kaikohe man went missing while diving next to a rocky islet off Moturoa Island, near the Black Rocks, on Friday.

Commercial dive operators, family members, police and Coastguard carried out a search of the area before his body was found on the sea floor about 2.30pm by a friend of the family.

He marked the spot with a guide rope so members of the police National Dive Squad were able to recover his body that evening.

The area is known as a challenging dive site with many underwater caves and crevices.

Sergeant Haydn Korach, of Mid North police, said it was too early to say what had caused the man's death.


The investigation was continuing and police had yet to take full statements from family members who were out on the water with him.

A rāhui prohibiting the taking of seafood from the area was lifted by local hapu Ngāti Kawa on Monday after the man was buried. His name has yet to be formally released.