White Island eruption: Heartbroken family say missing guide Tipene Maangi was called in on day off

A close relative of missing guide Tipene Maangi who is believed to have been on White Island when the volcano erupted says the 24-year-old wasn't supposed to work on Monday. 

Anihera Paku told Newshub that because of her cousin's kind-hearted nature he was happy to pick up extra shifts. 

"The Monday he wasn't even meant to go to work but he was called in," she said. 

Maangi's partner, Kuini Morehu-Waenga, suffered through a sleepless night sick with worry and is now "absolutely devastated". 

The pair were yet to start a family but have been "inseparable" since they met. 

The couple grew up together and were best friends for years before starting a relationship about three years ago.  

Maangi began his job with White Island Tours in September and was "really enjoying" the position, Paku says. 

He is known for doing things for his community and his Iwi Te Whānau-ā-Apanui "meant a lot to him".  

"He's a really good people person, sociable, you could be having a really bad day and here comes Tipene and his cheeky remarks, just to brighten your day," she says.  "He's just the laugh of the crowd." 

Paku told Newshub Maangi was loving his job as a tour guide on White Island.
Paku told Newshub Maangi was loving his job as a tour guide on White Island. Photo credit: Twitter

Paku says Maangi is passionate about meeting new people and singing. 

"We as a family are heartbroken, just being the type of person he is that is what we as a family know he would've done," she says. 

Their extended family and friends are now praying for his safe return. 

A pilot carried out a physical search of the island and found "no signs of life" however Maangi's grandmother told NZME her family are hopeful he found a cave. 

"He would have been helping others before he thought about himself."  

Loved ones have taken to Facebook to share their hope that he will be rescued. 

"Come home in one piece brother. You will be kept in my prayers tonight," one person wrote. 

"Come home my bro," said another while another person added: "Karakia for Tipene and all of his whanau that you all rest in safety and aroha tonight, to gain strength for tomorrow."  

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz