When Calvin Kingi turned around to see Whakaari/White Island erupting his first reaction was awe.
Later, it was helplessness.
The tour guide who was working the day of the eruption has shared his experience for the first time.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the tragic day when the volcano erupted in December 2019. Twenty-two people lost their lives in the days, weeks and months after.
Kingi has recalled the day and his journey of healing that followed the eruption.
Kingi said he was one of the "lucky ones" because he was assigned to one of the earlier tours of the day.
The tour was off the island and back on the boat at the time of the eruption.
"I just remember coming down the stairs, turning around, and just making sure everyone in the back was alright, but behind them was just a huge plume of debris and smoke.
"I was just in awe of this thing, [it's] something you see in a movie. It quickly dawned on me and I yelled out 'eruption' and our skipper pulled the brakes."
The crew then had to decide what to do next.
"We decided, our passengers, their safety, for us, were our primary concern, so we decided to, we had to, we took them back. We took them back, which was a long and painful journey.
"I just felt helpless because the information I received I knew where my workmates were and some of the people. I just had that feeling. We just stayed there for a couple of hours waiting for anyone to come back."
Kingi said he couldn't sleep for three days after the eruption and was diagnosed with PTSD. He had recurring nightmares of the eruption.
He went to a local mirimiri (massage) centre in Whakatāne to begin his healing.
"Funnily enough the person who was doing my mirimiri, she knew me very well, so that was a part of the first healing; healing hands, hands with intent.
"My friend, she really took a lot off me. After that, she allowed me to weep, roimata, hūpē. When I cried, I was crying for everyone.
"I thought I had really reached rock bottom before, but I had never felt anything like this."
He said he was now in a good place thanks to his spirituality but still had a long journey of healing ahead of him.
"I just feel for everyone. I sincerely hope people find their peace."
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