The brother of shark attack victim Adam Strange was one of the first back in the water when Muriwai Beach re-opened yesterday.
Tristan Strange flew back from Cambodia after his brother was killed while swimming off the beach on Wednesday. The beach and surrounding regional park were closed after the attack, believed to be by a great white shark.
About 30 friends and family, including Strange's widow, Meg, 2-year-old daughter Indigo and mother, Jeanette, gathered on the beach just after 8.30am. They hugged, linked arms and threw flowers into the surf.
More than two dozen also swam, watched by lifeguards metres away in an inflatable rescue boat.
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The return to the water was what Meg wanted, family friend Adam Stevens told the Herald on Sunday.
"I think she was thrilled that the people were back and using the water. It was Addy's home and she said this was about reclaiming that special place for her. Every time we go to that ocean, it's like getting a cuddle from him."
Family friend Kirsty, who did not want her last name used, watched as her 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son splashed in the waves. "We've just got to get back out there. I think Adam was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
A funeral service for Strange, 46, will be held tomorrow.