Family and friends pay tribute to teenage flood victims

The heartbroken family and friends of two teenage boys who were swept away in a flash flood on Saturday have paid tribute to the pair.

Mitch Woolley and Sosi Turagaivui, both 17, died when they were swept down a river at Cascade Falls in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges. They'd been swimming with three others when torrential rain suddenly caught them off guard. 

On Monday the flag flew at half-mast at Flanshaw Road School as a tribute to Mitch, a much-loved former student.

Principal Cherie Taylor-Patel told Newshub that his death at such a young age was devastating. 

"The whole community really feel like we've lost one of our own."

Mitch attended Flanshaw Road alongside his twin brother Denver, who was also caught in the raging torrent. Miraculously, he survived.

"For Denver, he said it was just absolutely terrifying," Ms Taylor-Patel says. 

"He held onto a rock for a while and then he had to let go, he held onto a cabbage tree and it pulled out of the banks, so he was back down in the water."

Three hours later he was plucked to safety by a rescue helicopter, cold and shaken, but alive.

After leaving Flanshaw Road, Mitch and Denver attended Massey High School where they met Sosi.

Sosi's mother Sereima told Newshub her son was an intelligent, motivated boy.

He worked at KFC and had dreams of becoming a pilot or a doctor - dreams he'll now never be able to fulfil.

In a statement, Mitch's family said he had just started an apprenticeship as a Marine Engineer.

They said he was always the cheeky and fun loving entertainer in any group. His infectious personality always ensured that there was a smile on the faces of those that happened to meet him.

Ms Taylor-Patel says the deaths of two young men feel like an "act of God".

"It feels like a random moment in time that's unbelievable."

One of those hit hardest by the double tragedy is Denver, who will now have to go on without his twin brother. 

"He has lost his best friend, and I think it's hard for him to even imagine how it's going to be," Ms Taylor-Patel says.

Both Mitch and Sosi are expected to be farewelled at funerals later this week.