A man has died at the beach where he posed for his wedding photo just seven months earlier.

On Tuesday, the "love of his life" was distraught as she watched her husband drown at a Marine Parade beach.

Police today named the man as Joseph Taurua Terrill. He had recently moved to Napier from Tauranga.

The 51-year-old was swimming in the afternoon before he got in to trouble and drowned in the high swells about 3pm.


Close friend Stephen Eru said Terrill, who was born in Wairoa, had "always" been the single one but this year met the "love of his life".

"Whenever we hung out he was always single but one day he announced he had a lady coming around.

"He brought her to my house and showed her off. He was rapt and they were meant to be."

The couple were married at the church in Maraenui in April and had their wedding photos taken along Marine Parade.

A man drowned in the ocean off Marine Parade in Napier on Tuesday. Photo / Paul Taylor
A man drowned in the ocean off Marine Parade in Napier on Tuesday. Photo / Paul Taylor

"It was an amazing occasion ... It was so colourful and they were both so happy. They were devoted to one another from day one."

Eru was shocked and could not believe that area of sea had taken his friend.

"We had been swimming there for years and the waves and sets that rolled in were huge and we were fine."

Yesterday he could not bring himself to even look at the ocean along Marine Parade.

"It is just so tragic, as he was such an approachable, intelligent and kind man who you could talk to for hours about everything and anything."

After the wedding the couple moved to Tauranga so Terrill could complete his studies and become a teacher.

"He was such an intelligent man who had already got up to level seven in Maori studies. He was studying at the Bethlehem Tertiary Institute and only came back to Hawke's Bay to have a two-month break over Christmas."

Eru met the man at a Hastings church service six years ago.

"I went over and had a chat and we found we both loved God and nature and believed in the same things. We instantly clicked from the day he arrived."

The man had been working at an environment centre.

"He was helping out with the electrical stuff there but he did a lot for the community. He went on to help with the gardening at the local Maraenui Marae and the pottery club in Whitmore Park."

Another close friend, Charmaine Waihape, said Terrill held a lot of love and respect towards his wife and was very protective.

"They were the one couple you knew just loved being together. He loved walking his lady around the water and they did everything together."

Waihape said his calm presence, wisdom and love would be missed by many.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand regional manager Charlie Cordwell said it was a tragic incident but with the cold temperatures and risk the water posed, any additional signage or equipment would not have made a difference.

"All beaches carry risks and our job is to implement preventive action. Our patrol do not start until November 13 and only so much can be done outside these times being a voluntary organisation."

Cordwell said there is significant signage to indicate the dangers along Marine Parade beach.

"There are signs 400m apart along the beach and also around the Pacific Lifesaving Club, so in our opinion there is adequate signage."

With regards to safety equipment, Mr Cordwell said they had discussed the accessibility of lifebuoys with the Napier City Council.

"We felt unless somebody was trained to use them they would not have the positive effect desired."

A Water Safety New Zealand spokeswoman said in the 21 years since January 1996 there had been five drownings off Marine Parade in Napier.