Tragedy at Iron Maori event in Napier

Tragedy at Iron Maori event in Napier

A temporary ban, known as a rāhui, has been observed to honor an IronMāori swimmer and the section of sea where they tragically passed away last Saturday. This ban was respected by those utilizing the area and is scheduled to be lifted on Monday.

The rāhui was established by respected kaumātua at around 8 am on Saturday. This decision came amidst deep distress among event organizers, participants, families, and others following the tragic incident. The unfortunate event occurred during the initial hours of the second day of the 15th anniversary of IronMāori, a significant health and fitness initiative based in Hawke’s Bay. The event is still under the leadership of its founder, Heather Te Au Skipworth.

It encompassed the vicinity of Ahuriri Beach and the sea extending from a line connecting Te Karaka and Te Karaka to Te Herenga Waka o Ahuriri, covering the area between the inner harbor entrance and the Port of Napier.

Even though Coastguard Hawke’s Bay was not directly involved in the event, they also urged people to refrain from swimming, fishing, or boating in the area as a sign of respect.

The tragic incident occurred during the swimming leg of the IronMāori and quarter and half IronMan triathlon events, which commenced at 7 am and constituted two days of activities, catering to participants ranging from young children to individuals over 70 years old. Approximately 1500 competitors from across the country and overseas were involved.

The authorities were informed about the incident around 7:45 am, and on Sunday, it was confirmed that the circumstances had been referred to the Coroner.

Following discussions among the kaumātua, a statement was released on social media, notifying individuals that the restrictions applied to all water activities within the designated area. While the IronMāori swim was affected, a sailing regatta in a more distant part of the sea proceeded as scheduled.

The organizers expressed deep emotions on the IronMāori Facebook page, stating, “It is absolutely heart-breaking to have a participant pass at our event, as they all become part of our wider whānau.”

The heartfelt message conveyed condolences and empathy to the family during this sorrowful and challenging time. The organizers extended their gratitude to the Surf Life Saving team, swim director, marshals, event medics, emergency services, and all others who aided and supported the event. They also thanked the kaumātua for providing cultural guidance.

In addition, they acknowledged the participants for their understanding and acceptance of the tough decisions that were made, expressing gratitude for the respectful manner in which these decisions were received.