A search for a 13-year-old boy who is missing in the Hauraki
Gulf after a boat capsized has been called off for today.
Three men and the boy, members of a Papakura family, set off
from Kawakawa Bay about 11am yesterday but their 12-foot
runabout capsized within an hour of launching.
Police said late this afternoon that the search had been
called off for today.
The boat, with two people clinging to it, was spotted this
morning by Coastguard Air Patrol and a member of the public
on a yacht, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter winched two people aboard and a
police helicopter found the third person in the water.
A police crew member jumped into the sea with a flotation
device to rescue him and both were then picked up by a police
Two of those rescued were taken to Auckland Hospital.
Inspector Shawn Rutene said the 13-year-old boy was believed
to have separated from his three other family members some
time during the night.
"Indications tell us so far they were all huddled together on
the boat, it was dark, it was pretty rough and at some point
during the night or early morning the parties have
separated,'' Mr Rutene said.
The boat capsized halfway between the Coromandel and Waiheke
Island, which Mr Rutene said was "a place that you really
don't want to be in the water''.
Coastguard operations manager Ray Burge said the capsized
vessel was "a small boat ... for the conditions and the
number of people on board''.
"They certainly should have checked the marine weather before
they went out. A vessel that size with four people, probably
not the best,'' he said.
None of the four members of a Papakura family whose runabout
capsized in the Hauraki Gulf were wearing lifejackets,
despite there being more than enough for everyone.
Coastguard spokeswoman Georgie Smith stressed the importance
of not just taking lifejackets on a boat trip but wearing
"The four people involved in today's incident weren't wearing
lifejackets, yet there were five lifejackets in the boat.''
She said the survival rate for people wearing life jackets
was ten-fold that of people who did not.
"If they were all wearing lifejackets the chances of finding
them are just huge, as are their lack of hypothermia, because
they can also keep you warm.''
Ms Smith said safety messages were stressed throughout the
year but many people still did not take them seriously.
"We can only do so much - our volunteers have been out there
dedicating their time, risking themselves today to save
others, but people need to look after themselves.''
Water Safety chief executive Matt Claridge said there seemed
to be a particular resistance to wearing lifejackets from
"In the last 12 months it has been a rising issue''.
Mr Claridge said it was practically impossible to put on a
lifejacket in the water.
"As an incident unfolds on a boat, it's nigh on impossible to
get everybody in a lifejacket in time - hence why the most
obvious and logical thing to do is to wear a lifejacket when
you're in a boat in case you fall in the water.''
He said it was especially important for children to wear
Maritime New Zealand deputy director Lindsay Sturt said it
appeared the group also had no means of communication.
"We sympathise with the family in what is an extremely
difficult time, and we are hoping for a positive outcome to
the search, but it appears this situation could so easily
have been avoided,'' Mr Sturt said.
"These men were not wearing lifejackets and it appears they
had no means of raising the alarm when they got into trouble
- that means they spent 12 hours in the water even before a
search began, in the middle of the night.
"We hear of rescues every week from around the country and
almost, without exception, when people take simple steps to
prepare for boating trips, the outcomes are positive.''
Police also stressed the importance of being safe on the
A police spokesman said skippers needed to urge everyone on
board their vessel to wear lifejackets.
"Make sure that your boat is equipped with a marine radio, a
cellphone and flares.
"Importantly, check the marine forecast before you go out and
if the conditions don't look good then don't go out.''