Outpouring of grief, aroha for 7yo boy who drowned off Napier coast

Marama Te Pou.
Marama Te Pou. Photo credit: Simplicity Bereavement Services / Facebook

The Napier community is mourning the loss of a seven-year-old who died off the coast of Te Awa, with locals invited to pay their respects to the "much-loved" boy.

Marama Te Pou, a student at Napier's Marewa School, was swept out to sea on Friday afternoon after playing by the water's edge near Marine Parade on Te Awa beach. 

Marewa School issued a statement on behalf of the whānau on Sunday, paying tribute to the "beautiful boy", "beloved son", "much-loved brother" and "awesome uncle", affectionately known as Boombie. He also leaves behind his twin, Te Whetu Kotahi. 

The whānau has invited the community to pay their respects to Marama as the family makes its way from Hastings to Flaxmere's Te Aranga Mārae on Monday. 

The seven-year-old's tangi will be held on Tuesday before he is laid to rest at Mangaroa Cemetery.

"Our whānau would like to say thank you to the wider community for your kind words and aroha," said the statement.

The family also acknowledged the support of Hastings' funeral directors Simplicity Bereavement Services during this "heartbreaking time".

There has been an outpouring of grief and aroha across social media as the wider community sends their condolences to the whānau.

"An absolute tragedy. Our hearts are breaking for the Te Pou family today and all those who knew Marama," regional paper Hawke's Bay Today said.

A witness to the incident on Friday told NZME that "horrendously huge" waves prevented bystanders from rescuing the boy.

"They were crashing them back into shore. They just couldn't get out there," the witness told Hawke's Bay Today.

Police confirmed that two officers and Surf Lifesavers, a 27-year-old and a 30-year-old, tried their best to rescue Marama. 

A police helicopter managed to recover the body and bring the two officers to safety.