Friend pays tribute to victim of Bluff nautical tragedy

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A friend of the man who died yesterday in a boating accident in Bluff is sad to lose the man who was like a brother to her. Photo / Mike Scott

A friend of a man who died in a boating accident near Bluff yesterday laments the loss of a “good friend and brother”.

The man, commonly known as Richard, was one of two people who died after a boat ran into trouble at Bluff Harbor yesterday afternoon.

Two other people involved in the incident were taken to hospital in stable condition.

Nurse Vini Kumar had known Richard in his late sixties for about 12 years and had lived near him in Makarewa, north of Invercargill.

“For me, I lost a good friend and a good brother,” Kumar told the Herald.

“I have no family in New Zealand and [he] was as close as the family to us. “

Richard had been a strong source of support when Kumar’s partner, Ben McLean, a senior firefighter, died last year in a deer attack.

“Richard was like a brother to us and he always came to help us on the farm.”

“He’s always been there … a very great man.”

Kumar was not aware of the circumstances of Richard’s death, but said she went to visit her family, whom she described as shocked.

A helicopter was used in response to the incident.  Photo / Laura Smith
A helicopter was used in response to the incident. Photo / Laura Smith

According to Kumar, Richard had sold his land in Makarewa about five months ago and was renovating his townhouse in Invercargill.

She said the tight-knit Indian community is coming together to support Richard’s whānau and pay tribute to him.

“It’s not a big Indian community in Invercargill so everyone comes together … it’s something that is always there with them that their brother drowned, but saying that, life doesn’t don’t stop there. “

Bluff Community Council Chairman Raymond Fife said he understands the boat involved is being used for recreational purposes.

“It was difficult conditions at the port today. Maybe that played a role.

“It’s tragic, and we feel for the family [of those who died]. “

A rāhui has been set up for Bluff Inner Harbor, an article posted on the NZ Southland Hunting And Fishing Facebook page said yesterday.

“As a sign of respect and aroha to those who tragically lost their lives today, our moana, Te Rūnanga o Awarua also placed a rāhui on the inner harbor of Bluff.

“A traditional rāhui requires that you refrain from taking kaimoana and that you respect the notified area.”

The week-long rāhui was in place in the area, a direct line from Kanawera-Stirling Point to Papakaha-Tiwai Point, and all along the port, including Awarua Bay, the post said.

Maritime New Zealand had been notified and police are investigating the deaths on behalf of the coroner.

Police would like to hear from anyone who saw a small boat in Bluff Harbor yesterday or has CCTV footage of the harbor as this may be relevant to their investigations.

Anyone with information is asked to call 105 and quote the event number P048675341.


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