The loved ones of the recently married couple whose Waimarama Beach trip took a tragic turn have thanked those who leapt to their rescue.
On Sunday Hemin Limbachiya, 26, drowned after he and his wife Tanvi Bhavsar were caught in a flash rip and swept out to sea. With patrols finished for the day, members of the public swam out to help.
The first to reach them was 16-year-old Cameron McCallum, who was thanked yesterday by Limbachiya's best friend Milind Gandhi and brother-in-law Prashin Poovelil.
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"My sister is alive because of him," Poovelil said. "We can't thank him enough. There are no words."
"Without thinking he just jumped in to save our friend's life," Gandhi, who had known Limbachiya since they were teenagers, said. "Hemin will be really happy, and he will be really proud of that young guy."
Since being discharged from hospital on Tuesday, Bhasvar was recovering well, her brother said. On Sunday she would be among those flying back to India with Limbachiya's body, where his family would give him a cultural cremation.
Gandhi said he would never forget the phone call with Hemin's father.
"He said 'Milind, bring my son to me. I'm giving you the responsibility. At any cost, or any way, I have to bring my best friend to his Dad".
His father, mother, and younger sister family were hurting, but were being strong for one another. They had been caused more grief by media reports publishing manipulated information about their son.
Limbachiya's final words were a testament to "how loving he can be, and how caring he can be to his friends and family".
When Cameron reached the pair on Sunday, he grabbed Limbachiya, who told the 16-year-old to save his wife instead.
"What he did was nothing less than heroic as well. The only difference is he is a posthumous hero," Mr Poovelil said.
"He was one of the really good human beings that I've ever met in every manner. Respectful, caring loving, disciplined, organised. Any good traits that you would want in a gentleman, he was that."
As well as being caring and generous, Limbachiya was also very organised – operating to a schedule even on weekends, unless the cricket was on. His organisation meant his wife Tanvi never had to worry about anything, but now "she has to do everything", Poovelil said.
"Apart from the devastation that Tanvi's going through, she also has finances, and her [visa condition]."
The couple had married in a Wellington civil ceremony in 2016, but had their cultural Indian marriage last month.
A Givealittle page was started to try and help Bhasvar. As well as contributing to the costs of flying back to India, it would go toward paying off debts close to $40,000 from their December Indian cultural marriage.
Limbachiya had ensured the couple had a saving plan to pay this off, but Bhasvar would not be able to do it alone.
"They both enjoyed the wedding so much. Them as a couple, they were amazing. The love, the connect they had was an eternal kind of thing," Poovelil said.
Gandhi remembered his friend as always being there for anyone who needed him.
A good chef, Poovelil said when his brother-in-law moved to Napier in 2016 he would cook his family breakfast nearly every weekend. He also had a passion for the game Ludo, which he often played with the family at the Poovelils, and loved to unwind after work with Xbox.
Gandhi said his friend was a long-term planner, who always had a goal, and how he would achieve it, in mind. When he saw his friend for the last time – at the airport on his return from India – they had discussed Limbachiya's near-term future plan.
"It was really sad for me, after just hearing his six-month or one-year plan, suddenly I heard the news [of his death]. I couldn't even believe it."
Limbachiya worked at Solemate Safety Solutions in Napier, where he was a "valued work colleague and special friend", a death notice from the company said.
"Remembered for his snazzy dress sense and sincere, gentle nature. Our condolences to Tanvi and his family in India."
• The Givealittle page will be open for three months after which donations will be given to Tanvi to settle her debts: givealittle.co.nz/cause/support-for-hemin-vinubhai-limbachiyas-young-wife