Aramoana death: surfer’s family were at beach

People comfort each other at a beach at Aramoana on Saturday, where surfer James Civil died....
People comfort each other at a beach at Aramoana on Saturday, where surfer James Civil died. Police and ambulance services attended the scene. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
The partner and infant daughter of a man who died while surfing at Aramoana at the weekend were at the beach when the incident took place.

Jamie Civil’s partner Courtney and 6-month-old daughter Lenni were there when Mr Civil died while taking part in a surf competition at Aramoana, a Givealittle page set up for the young Dunedin family has revealed.

The South Coast Boardriders Association set up the page, which by 7pm yesterday had raised $16,590 of a $40,000 goal for the family.

By all accounts Mr Civil (35) died doing what he loved on Saturday.

Police and ambulance services, including a rescue helicopter, were called about 2.30pm, after receiving reports of a man drowning.

A police spokeswoman said he was brought from the water and given medical attention, but was not able to be revived.

On its Facebook page and on the fundraising page, the association posted a tribute to Mr Civil that said the New Zealand surfing community had lost one of its most respected surfers.

Mr Civil had been surfing "huge waves" at the time, it said.

"These were the conditions he lived for, was talented and experienced with and thrived in, making the tragedy so much harder for all of us to process."

He loved his family dearly, the posts said.

"They had become a perfect part of his world, and he loved the beautiful life they had created."

The money raised would help Mr Civil’s partner and daughter "adjust to the sudden shock of life without their partner and dad" who had been the sole wage earner of the household.

A second Givealittle page set up to raise funds for the family had raised about $22,000 in a few hours yesterday.

About 50 people had gathered at the beach to watch the 35th annual Herb and Parro Memorial surf competition on Saturday.

A witness said he was watching the surfing when a helicopter arrived with a paramedic to tend to an injured surfer.

He said he had rarely seen waves so large at the beach, but the conditions did not seem dangerous to him and all of the surfers he saw seemed experienced.

Te Runanga o Otakou placed a 24-hour rahui (temporary closure) on the area from Heyward Point to the Spit Wharf. It lifted at 3pm yesterday.

A police spokeswoman said the death would be referred to the coroner.

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