George Maoate has not been in the water by himself since
the shark attack. Photo / Richard Robinson
Two weeks after a fatal shark attack, things at Muriwai
Beach are still a little different.
On a glorious summer's day there is only a handful of people
in the water, none much more than waist-deep.
Around at Maori Bay, the few surfers who are out
half-jokingly talk about bringing out dive knives, and
"shark" is the only English word used by Japanese tourists
walking to the Gannet colony trail above.
But despite the quiet, the surf lifesaving club is being kept
busy with false alarms. One local, looking through a
telescope, reported large, dark clumps of floating seaweed.
"It [the attack] brought a premature end to the season in
many respects," said Muriwai Lifeguard Service chairman Tim
Jago. "Beach attendance levels have been well down. The
number of people in the water is down, significantly, and the
number of adult surfers is down, significantly.
"People I talk to, what you would call water people ... I
wouldn't say they are reluctant to go in the water but
there's still a respect period in place. We'll get back
there, but it's still just a little bit raw."
Up above Maori Bay, surfer Jeremy Perkins, 21, said he had
thought of the fatal shark attack "a little bit" while out in
"I've heard a few guys talk about bringing out dive knives
with them. But, nah, I'm not too worried at all. What was it,
second one in 30 years?"
The lack of people around was remarkable, he said.
"We went to Muriwai and there were about two surfers in the
water. The conditions aren't the greatest, but you'd expect a
few more out. A few more learners, a few more tourists."
Local cabinet-maker Ross Grant, 36, said he had already gone
for a swim and would probably have a surf today.
"I suppose it will be something extra you've got to think
about. It's just one of those things that can happen, eh? You
know they [sharks] are out there. Probably just don't think
about how close they are."
Mr Jago said that while adults had been cautious about
returning to the water, younger people had been more
About 650 children had been put through the club's school
programme since the attack. The programme was cancelled for a
couple of days, but when it restarted no school pulled out.
He was proud of the way his team, some of whom went out to
the scene of the attack and retrieved victim Adam Strange's
body, had come through a traumatic event.
"What they've seen was not very pleasant at all. But all were
back on the job as soon as rostered. Three of the four worked
the next day."
It would take some time, but he felt the community was nearly
back to normal.