The father of a little boy who died after falling from a boat in Marlborough says his "heart dropped" when he found out his boy was missing in the water.

And he has revealed the child was not even supposed to be in the South Island when he was killed.

Nekko Paul Haworth, 6, was been reported missing in Havelock, Marlborough, in the early hours of Tuesday.

It is understood he fell from a boat moored at the port and was reported missing shortly before 6.30am that day.

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Police recovered Nekko's body just over seven hours later.

His death will be referred to the Coroner and is still under investigation by police.

It is thought Nekko fell overboard while on the boat with his mother Gemma Astwood's partner.

Nekko's father Tom Haworth shared his grief with the Herald this afternoon via a statement.

He said while he was separated from Nekko's mother - that changed nothing in terms of the involvement he had with his son and the love he and his family provided.

"My entire family - including extended family from the North Island - were all active in Nekko's life, which helped me to provide Nekko with the best life a young boy could've had," Haworth.

He recalled the day his son was born on March 13 2013.

"(It was) was the happiest day of my life, I was ecstatic to welcome my boy into the world as news spread to family and friends," he said.

"I was showered with congratulatory messages and offers of support.


"I had never in my lifetime anticipated that six years later, that I would be faced with the darkest day when I received a call saying my son was missing.

"My heart dropped. Had all the skills I provided my boy with empowered him to survive and return to where he was staying?

"Hours later I received the news, no parent should ever receive."

Nekko Paul Haworth has been identified as the 6yr old boy who is thought to have drowned after falling off a boat in Marlborough on Tuesday. Photo / Givealittle
Nekko Paul Haworth has been identified as the 6yr old boy who is thought to have drowned after falling off a boat in Marlborough on Tuesday. Photo / Givealittle

Haworth said he cherished the five days he spent with Nekko in the days leading up to his death.

"Nekko held a smile that radiated across his face to the point that it would be impossible not to return a smile," Haworth said.

"Just last week Nekko had mastered a back somersault followed by a forward flip, he was go-getter full of ambition and he received a real, genuine up bringing by all my family, with his great grandparents and extended family jumping at any opportunity that he was allowed to go visit."

He was still reeling from the news and trying to get answers about his son's final moments.

"There are so many questions in our minds, some of which will be answered as time passes and some that may never be," he said.

"Getting the call that he was missing was a shock as I wasn't aware that he was not in the care of my ex-partner, not to mention on a boat.

"It all seemed like a nightmare as nothing stacked up."

Haworth said Nekko was supposed to be at his great grandparents' farm in the North Island when he died.

"The amount of questions and thoughts that go through my mind made me wonder how such tragedy could've been prevented," he said.

"For reasons unknown to me the trip was cancelled and the tickets wasted, meaning my family could not see him for the holidays, but further, would never see Nekko again.

"All these questions all play in my head like a story on repeat, but I need to keep perspective and remember that if the 13th March 2013 never happened, then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend six years with the most incredible little boy who I know cherished spending time with me and my family."

Haworth said Nekko spent many occasions with his side of the family on the water and was "very confident".

Nekko's death has been referred to the Coroner and Haworth hoped he would get answers about how his son died.

"I, along with all my family members will dearly miss Nekko, he was my rock and his attitude towards life meant that you couldn't meet Nekko without being touched by his positive, driven attitude."

Earlier this week, Astwood described the agony of losing her son as "the worst day of my life".

She shared a heartbreaking message on a fundraising website that has been set up to help the family.

"My son Nekko Paul Haworth was the best thing that [happened] in my life," she wrote.

"I'll never forget you my darling boy."

Family friend Abbey Marshall set up the page on crowdfunding site Givealittle.

"Nekko had the brightest future ahead of him," she wrote.

"Unfortunately ... his life was taken too soon by a tragic accident.

"Nekko had a beautiful smile and personality that was one in a million.

"Cheeky, bubbly and full of energy - he could light up any room he walked in to."

Marshall said Nekko would always be in their hearts and minds and they would cherish the memories they made with him forever.

"You will be the brightest star in the sky. We all love you and miss you so much."