Bluff boating tragedy victims named

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    POLICE have named the two men who died in Friday’s boating incident in Bluff Harbour.

    They were Richard Hiraman Jeet (66) and Claude Norman Mitchell (67).

    Four people were on board the boat when it sank, despite rescue attempts from police and Coastguard.

    The two survivors were taken to hospital.

    Emergency services were notified at 12.20pm on Friday that a boat was in trouble in the waters between Bluff Port and Tiwai Wharf.

    Conditions were rough at the time of the incident, with wind at 18 knots, gusting to 23 knots, a chop height of .6m and swell of 0.8m.

    An investigation into the circumstances of the incident is ongoing.

    A friend of Mr Jeet’s said she had known him for about 12 years and had lived near him in Makarewa, north of Invercargill.

    “For me, I have lost a good friend and a good brother,” she said.

    “I don’t have any family in New Zealand and [he] was as close as family to us.

    She said Mr Jeet had been a strong source of support when her partner died last year.

    “Richard was like a brother to us and he would always used to come and help us on the farm.

    “He was always there… a very great man.”

    She wasn’t aware of the circumstances around Mr Jeet’s death, but said she had been to visit his family, who she described as in shock.

    She said the close-knit Indian community was coming together to support his whanau and pay their respects.

    “It’s not a big Indian community in Invercargill so everybody is getting together… it’s something which is always there with them that their brother drowned, but in saying that, life does not stop there.”

    Bluff Community Board chairman Raymond Fife said he understood the boat involved was being used recreationally.

    “It was rough conditions out on the harbour today. That may have played a part.

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

    A rahui has been put in place for the Bluff inner harbour, a post on the NZ Southland Hunting And Fishing Facebook page said.

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

    “A traditional rahui requires you refrain from taking kaimoana and pay respect within the notified area.”

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

    • Additional reporting NZ Herald
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