Mount Maunganui resident Louise Burton organised a 'paddle out' to honour those affected by the White Island eruption earlier this week.

"I found out that there were people directly in our community who have been affected and obviously it was very close to home with the cruise ships in town," Burton said.

"It felt particularly sad that there were people who had come to holiday here who won't be going home. I thought, what better way to show our respects than to go out and paddle out together as a community."

A 'paddle out' is a traditional ceremony for ocean and surf communities.

Advertisement

"Everybody paddles out across the break to the calmer water. We'll then go into a circle and everyone holds hands and we welcome anyone who wants to talk openly in a safe space… to talk about memories of those who may have been lost but also just to talk openly about perhaps how they feel or their thoughts and prayers they want to send out to the people who have been affected."

A traditional paddle out would see people in the circle splash water into the air, but this was different.

"What we're going to do is splash water out towards White Island. We'll disperse the circle and ask everyone to do that," Burton said.

"It's something that someone who was affected closely asked me to do and I thought why not do that as a big group of people, to show how powerful we are as a community."

Once the ceremony finished the group caught a few waves back into shore to honour those lost or affected by the tragic events at White Island this week.

Made with funding from

Related articles: