"A good thing has come from a really bad thing," Pat Miller said, at the launch of Operation Flotation at Cable Bay.

The installation of flotation devices at Taipa, Cable Bay, and Cooper's Beach was the community's response to the death of 54-year-old Wairongoa Renata, who went to the rescue of a number of children caught in a rip at Cable Bay on January 2.

The father, who died trying to save his young daughter among others at the Northland beach, was at the time hailed as a humble hero who loved his whanau and community.

Friends, colleagues and extended family members of "Magoo" Renata said he would not have had a second thought about putting his own safety aside to help others.


He had been enjoying the day out when a number of children, including his 11-year-old daughter, became caught in a rip about 4pm.

Wairongoa Clarence Renata - known as Magoo or Tickety Boo - drowned saving his 11 year old daughter at Cable Bay. Photo / File
Wairongoa Clarence Renata - known as Magoo or Tickety Boo - drowned saving his 11 year old daughter at Cable Bay. Photo / File

Police said Renata, who called for help, was among a number of people to jump in to try to get the children to safety. All were pulled out safely. Renata's daughter was taken to Whangarei Hospital in a critical condition, but was later discharged.

Renata died at the scene.

A spokesman for his whānau said Saturday's ceremony was a sad occasion, but the family were delighted by, and grateful for, community efforts to make Doubtless Bay's beaches safer.

Those living across SH10, above the beach, were the kaitiaki or guardians, he added, and would hopefully look after "our families".

The flotation devices were placed in wooden stands made by Far North District Council contractor Recreational Services - two on the beachfront at Cable Bay, one at Taipa (opposite the resort), and two at Cooper's Beach, at the carpark and outside the San Marino Motel.

Miller said the five floatation devices was just the start, and there was much more work to do yet.

Each of the devices had cost $255, delivered (from the US) and marked with information regarding their function and what to do in an emergency in both English and te reo.

Far North mayor John Carter congratulated all involved, and particularly Miller who said she was just one of many. Ngati Kahu, Doubtless Bay businesses and the wider community had all supported the project strongly.

"We are here this morning because you care about your community," Carter said.

"This is a wonderful example of a community getting together and making something happen."

He had been involved in a similar community effort in Rarotonga while he was serving as High Commissioner to the Cook Islands, and hoped the initiative would spread around the country, and undertook to promote that in Wellington.

"That's the best thing I've heard all day," Miller replied.

But he was going to have to be quick to beat Far North Surf Rescue chairman Dave Ross, who said he would be in Wellington this weekend for a Search and Rescue conference, and would be speaking about it there.

He would be happy to accept any volunteers who wished to learn lifesaving skills for training, Ross added.