Community pays tribute to Alex Fisher

Community pays tribute to Alex Fisher

The family of Alex Fisher, found dead on a beach near Levin, have spoken of their devastation of his sudden death, and have thanked the community for their support.  

In a statement read by Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy this afternoon on behalf of Alex's parents Mike and Sandra Fisher, they thanked all those who helped in the search, delivered food to them and prayed for Alex.  

"It is really appreciated and has shown the family how terrific our local community and country as a whole really is."

A framed photo of Alex was placed on a table at the Levin District Council where Mr Duffy read the statement.

The family has had a long association with the area, with Alex's grandmother living there for more than 27 years.

"The family have had many lovely and memorable occasions at the beach," the statement says.

Relatives are gathering as far away as Australia to honour Alex who they call "a beautiful young man".

Mr Duffy says he'd spoken with some family members and was invited to visit them at their home.

"Just to write that statement they found it challenging. They're going through a very difficult time," he said.

The death was going to be a "scar" on the community but Mr Duffy believes it will bring people together.

"My sense is these challenges bring out the best in people. Yes, we're wounded. Yes, we're grieving. And yes, this is a scar on the community that we didn't want, didn't need and nobody would look towards.

"My hope is that the community cherish the opportunity to be able to help each other."

Alex's Scout leader said he was a "typical" boy who wanted to take part in outdoor activities as much as his asthma would allow him.

As the mystery surrounding the death of Alex becomes clearer, he's been remembered by the community as a polite and well-mannered boy who loved getting involved.

A body was found at Waitarere Beach yesterday ending a three-day search for the 10-year-old and beginning a homicide investigation.

While it is yet to be formally identified, it is believed the body belongs to Alex. Police consider the circumstances of his death suspicious.

Ohau School, where Alex was a pupil, has paid tribute to him saying they have lost a "lovely member of our family".

"Alex was a delightful student who did find some aspects of school life challenging, but he was up for it.

"He was determined to give everything his best shot. He didn't give up and persevered," a statement from the school reads.

Alex was immersed in extra-curricular activities at the school including being part of the kapahaka group, softball, basketball and water polo teams. He was also a scout.

St Mary's Scout leader Barry Fitzgerald told RadioLIVE Alex was "a typical 10-year-old little boy".

"He just wanted to come along to Scouts, learn new things, take on new challenges. He was one of those kids who turned up when he could and he was a good little buddy. Easy to make friends with, good to talk to."

He'd been on a few excursions with the group including camping, but was limited in the things he could do because of his asthma.

"His asthma was a big part of his life. He always had his asthma inhaler with him and that did restrict him from some events like tramping and long walks."

Mr Fitzgerald said he'd received "hundreds" of calls with offers of help for the family and people sharing the family's grief.

"We know everyone is cut up about it and it's just a tragic loss to a Scout, to a community member, to a Levin local."

The school says its attention now will turn to supporting its pupils, staff and their families.

"We will shift the focus to how we can support his loving parents, during this heart-breaking time, and see what we can do to involve our children in farewelling their friend and classmate.

Principal Kathy Trevena-Brown says she will meet with the family today to discuss the best way to pay tribute to Alex.

Pupils would also be preparing their memories of him including a school photo album put together for the family.

The body was removed from the scene as well as a number of items of interest last night, and a scene guard was at the site overnight.

A detailed forensic investigation of the area Alex was found will continue today as part of the homicide investigation.

Police would not say what the items were.

"While this is a homicide inquiry given the suspicious circumstances involved, we are keeping an open mind about exactly what has occurred," says Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong.

"We are however building a good picture of the events which led to the boy’s death and it is important for the community in Waitarere to know that we do not believe there is any wider risk involved."

Around 20 investigators are working on the case which will continue into the weekend.

A post-mortem will be conducted today, and arrangements for formal identification are being made. 

Mr Duffy hopes there will be an update on the situation soon.

"We need to understand this is a challenging case for them and we need to let them do their work and do it properly," he told the Paul Henry programme.

Mr Duffy says the community needs to stand together during this difficult time.

"Just last evening I was at a meeting with a number of locals in town and they were devastated.

"Last night out at the beach here the community were arranging to get together... that's the sort of therapy stuff that will go on for a wee while now as people come to grips with what's happened."

At the height of the search, around 130 people including the Defence Force and search and rescue teams, were involved in looking for Alex in the South Block of the Waitarere Forest.

The last image of him was on CCTV on Monday night with his brother Eric, and he was reported missing at 4am on Tuesday.

A man, who has identity suppression, has already appeared in the Levin District Court in connection to the case.


Ohau School statement regarding Alex Fisher

3 News / RadioLIVE