9 Dec 2020

Whakaari White Island eruption remembered, one year on

From Checkpoint, 5:26 pm on 9 December 2020

As soon as the rāhui on Whakaari was lifted, Hayden Marshall-Inman's father went out fishing and caught his very first tuna weighing 57kg.

Today as morning broke on the first anniversary of the Whakaari eruption, about a hundred mourners gathered at dawn to remember the victims.

Among them - Kelsey Waghorn and Jake Milbank, the two tour guides who were terribly burnt in the eruption but lived to tell the tale. 

The body of their colleague Hayden Marshall-Inman has never been found and many in the community are still reeling after his loss. 

Mick Goodin, a friend of the family said seeing the photo of Hayden hanging in the fishing club was painful.  

"You see that, you get a bit emotional ... pretty raw time."

Goodin recalled taking Hayden's father out fishing when the rāhui was lifted.  

He said it was as if Hayden put the huge fish on the end of the rod for his father.  

"I took Hayden's dad out the first opportunity we could and he actually got a tuna ... the first one he's ever caught. That was 57kg so ... that's probably the only bright spot of goodness to come out of all this."

It was the biggest tuna catch of the year, Goodin said.

Hayden's mother Avey Woods said everyone now knew who Hayden was.

"What do you say when you lose a son and you break down on the beach calling out his name, sobbing, and a stranger comes up behind you, puts their arms around you whilst you cry, you wail, you sob, call out his name? 

"That was the day just after Hayden had died. To this day I do not know who that lady was."

She said she was privileged to be close to him and at the beach, they felt connected.  

Hayden's brother Mark Inman said if he were still here he would tell him they were doing the good Hayden used to.  

"I'd say ... we're here for you and we still love you.

"He'd probably say 'chur bro'."

At Mataatua Wharenui, the whānau of Tipene Maangi - the other guide killed in the eruption - were there, wearing t-shirts to remember him. 

Overseas victims and their families shared stories, through letters and videos. 

The rest of the community, was across the road looking out to the sea where Whakaari was hidden by clouds. 

Locals, and visitors say it's about remembering and honouring those whose lives are permanently changed. 

At the Whakatāne heads, first responders came together - throwing wreaths into the ocean.