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Wellington boy dies after injury at Gisbornes slash covered Waikanae beach


Staff member
Dec 16, 2021
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A boy from Wellington died following an incident last night at Gisbornes Waikanae beach.
A police spokesperson said the child sustained an injury on the beach and died a short time later.

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Gisborne mayor Rehette Stoltz said police informed her last night that the child who died was aged 12.

Stoltz said she was devastated by the news.

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On behalf of our community, we send our condolences, our love and support to this family dealing this morning with this unimaginable loss, she said.

She and the council would contact the family to offer support, Stoltz said.

A karakia took place at Waikanae beach last night and while there was no rhui in place, Stoltz understood one would be announced shortly.

She did not know how the child was injured in the incident, but she was expecting more information from a police briefing later on Thursday.

We understand the death has been referred to the coroner and we will cooperate fully with the coroners investigation, she said.

Log debris and slash along Waikanae Beach, Gisborne, on Thursday morning. Surfers can still be seen along the beach with their boards.

Locals spoken to by Stuff said they had seen surfers out in the water near the scene of the incident this morning.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand spokesperson Rob McGregor said the child who died was a boy from Wellington.

McGregor said the beach was officially closed due to water quality at the time of the incident, and he understood lifeguards were not on duty.

In recent times, the beach has been covered in wood and debris following the battering by Cyclone Hale about a fortnight ago.

A Gisborne local, who wished to remain anonymous, said the incident took place outside the Waikanae Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

The local said slash had proved to be a problem on the beach recently, with children seen playing in and about debris. When the tide was high and the surf was rough, which they were last night, slash would often be spread throughout the shore and surf.

Slash has proved to be a problem on the beach recently.

Clearing slash debris from beaches is a regular occurrence across Tairwhiti, with storms washing forestry and wooded debris through the rivers into the sea.

Clean up following Cyclone Hale began on Monday on Waikanae and Midway beaches with support from the forestry industry, according to a post on the councils Facebook page.

Stoltz said the clean up process would likely be ongoing for some time.

This is not something that happens in days or weeks, it takes quite a lot of time, she said.

Stoltz said the council was investigating where the huge amounts of debris had originated from.

We will also continue our own investigation into the origin of the woody debris and support calls for an independent inquiry into future land use in Tairwhiti. The state of our waterways is unacceptable.

Brennan Thomas/Supplied
The Tranganui River was high in Gisborne on Wednesday morning after Cyclone Hale drenched the region overnight.

Gisborne District Council spends hundreds of thousands of dollars removing the slash in the lead up to summer and often following large storm events.

In 2021, it spent $344,000 on the clean-up across the city and Uawa beaches, clearing about 275 cubic metres of woody debris in October.

Tairwhiti Gisborne locals launched a petition, with more than 8500 signatures, seeking a raft of changes to the way forestry is carried out in the region, so destruction caused by storm events like Cyclone Hale can be avoided.

The petition, organised by Mana Taiao Tairwhiti, a group including farmers and horticulturalists, Mori landowners and conservation workers, called on local and central government to do more to reduce erosion sediment and forestry slash from entering waterways.

Police said they were not aware of any rhui being put in place in the area following the incident.

The childs death would be referred to the coroner.

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