1 Dec 2016

Kaipara tragedy: search for missing man to be called off

3:07 pm on 1 December 2016

The police search for the last fisherman who remains missing after the Francie sank is to end at midday today.

Taulagi "Lagi" Afamasaga - pictured with his daughter Amy

Taulagi "Lagi" Afamasaga - pictured with his daughter Amy Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

There were 11 people on the charter fishing boat when it capsized on Saturday afternoon.

Seven bodies have been recovered, but Taulagi Afamasaga is still missing. Three people survived.

Inspector Mark Fergus said today an extensive land and air search had been underway for Mr Afamasaga since Saturday, but Mr Afamasaga was now presumed dead.

"We have also consulted with specialists, including medical specialists, and sadly we have now well passed the survivability expectations in the conditions."

Mr Fergus said the decision to suspend the search had not been made lightly, and police still hoped to be able to return Mr Afamasaga to his family.

He said searches for the Francie were continuing, and police believed they had narrowed down the area in which the capsize had occurred.

Tides, currents and sea conditions in the area where the boat capsized were notoriously different, he said.

"We intend to conduct aerial searches, and subject to weather conditions, possibly some underwater or sub-surface searching."

The Francie, a fishing charter vessel thought to have got into trouble on the Kaipara Harbour.

The Francie sunk on Saturday and the bodies of seven people who were onboard have been recovered. Photo: Francie Charters / Facebook

The family of Mr Afamasaga has turned to the public for support.

His daughter Amy Yerro said he was the bread-winner of the family.

She has started a givealittle page in honour of him and was thinking of erecting a memorial and using the funds to support the family.

"We are not a family who ever ask anyone for any help, but I thought in honour of him, we would this one time ask for peoples' help. So basically that's what the funds are going for, just knowing that he will be at ease, knowing that his family is being well looked after."

Ms Yerro said she had received many messages of support and thanked everyone for their efforts in trying to find her father.

She said she was with her mother and husband today at their home in West Auckland.

"I feel sick, to be honest. I understand that the search cannot go on forever, but the same position I was when we found out he was missing is that we are still in limbo. We don't know what to do at the moment, we are lost, absolutely lost."

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