Sereima Turagaiviu's last conversation with her son was to remind him about his shift due to start later at the KFC not far from their home.

It was about 2.30pm when she spoke to her 17-year-old boy Sosiveta, known as Sosi. The next time she would call his phone, there would be no answer.

"When he didn't turn up [home], she was worried.

"But when the police came to her house, that's when she knew something was wrong with Sosi,'' relative Pastor Viliame Turagaiviu told the Herald.

Advertisement
The bridge swept away near Cascade Falls in the Waitakere Ranges on Saturday. Photo / Danny Steenhuisen
The bridge swept away near Cascade Falls in the Waitakere Ranges on Saturday. Photo / Danny Steenhuisen

"She thought he was going bowling.''

The Massey High School student was among a group of five friends who got in trouble at the Cascade Falls in the Waitakere Ranges after a sudden downpour in the area on Saturday afternoon.

Emergency services were called to the scene after a report at 5.15pm that three people had been swept away in a nearby river. The bodies of Sosi and schoolmate Mitch Woolley, also 17, would later be recovered.

Pastor Turagaiviu, who was like a grandfather to Sosi and his siblings, said their family was rallying to support Sosi's mother and his two brothers. Sosi was the middle child.

Their father, Joe Turagaiviu, was also being supported by family in Australia, where he is contracted to work.

"Sosi's mother was saying that the only thing she knows was that he was going to [tenpin] bowling with a group of boys.

"She told me that if she knew he was going to the Waitakere Ranges, she wouldn't have let him go. She's always careful about where they go for trips.

"But on Saturday, she told me that Sosi asked if he can go with the boys to bowling. She let him go and told him: 'Don't forget to come and work'.''

Advertisement
Sosiveta Turagaiviu, 17, died after being swept away at the Cascade Falls in Waitakere. Photo / Supplied
Sosiveta Turagaiviu, 17, died after being swept away at the Cascade Falls in Waitakere. Photo / Supplied

It is not known whether the friends changed their plans or if they had gone bowling earlier in the day before deciding to go to the falls.

Pastor Turagaiviu said the family had arrived in New Zealand from Fiji when Sosi was 3 years old. They lived in North Shore for most of his life, before they moved to West Auckland just over a year ago.

He was proud of the young man Sosi had become - a staunch Christian who had good friends and who worked hard at KFC Westgate to save towards buying his own car.

"That was how clever and good this boy was, he was about to get his own car. He would've used it his first week at school.

"He was a very hard worker and always very good at keeping money and looking after his job. He had a lot of good friends.''

The family is due to meet tonight to discuss funeral arrangements. However, Pastor Turagaiviu admitted many of them were still finding it hard to believe what had happened.

"His mother - it's very hard to accept it. It's very hard for her and it's very sad to look at her crying.''

Sosi had not yet been released to his family, but they were able to visit him the day after the incident.

"We went there on Sunday morning, when he was at the mortuary. His body was still soft and there was blood on his forehead.

"We did a prayer and ... thanked God he [was returned] to the family.

"His young brother, who just cries, we just took him to a room and encouraged him - because that's the only thing we can do now.''

Massey High School will hold special assemblies for both young men on Wednesday and students will be offered support from guidance counsellors.

Principal Glen Denham paid tribute to both students, calling them passionate young men who involved themselves fully in all aspects of school.

Sosi was a keen basketballer who played guard and recently started playing football.

Mitch was an accomplished footballer who travelled to Germany with the school recently. He also played and coached water polo.