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NZ Local News

Karioitahi Beach death: Family mourn drowning victim 19-year-old Hiran Joseph

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >

It took five agonising days to find the body of 19-year-old Hiran Joseph after he went missing at an Auckland beach.

Now the grieving family are not only seeking support for themselves but also want to ensure no family has to endure such a devastating loss.

Hiran Joseph went missing on January 2 on Karioitahi Beach in Auckland.

He was swimming with his older brother and a close friend when the waters turned “treacherous”, the family’s givealittle page says.

“Struggling against a fierce current, Hiran found himself trapped, pulled by the relentless force of the ocean.”

His brother and friend made it back to shore, but Joseph was missing.

On January 7, search and rescue crews looking for the missing swimmer found his body at Hamiltons Gap north of Waiuku, some 20km away from where he disappeared.

Land Search and Rescue and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand had scoured the area on Auckland’s southwest coast for five days straight before he was found.

“For his family, especially his devastated brother who witnessed the harrowing event, those days were an eternity of fear and despair.”

Westpac Rescue Helicopter and other emergency services on Karioitahi Beach searching for the missing swimmer on January 2. Photo / James Wheeler
Westpac Rescue Helicopter and other emergency services on Karioitahi Beach searching for the missing swimmer on January 2. Photo / James Wheeler

The loss of Joseph leaves the family with an unfillable void, the page says.

SLNZ Helpline founder Krishan Gallage has been supporting the family.

“He’s a lovely boy and was just starting his life.

“They were a really happy family… they’ve been here for about 15 years,” Gallage said.

SLNZ is a free phone helpline that offers help and support to Sri Lankans living in New Zealand, which Gallage runs voluntarily.

Gallage and other members of the New Zealand Sri Lankan community searched every corner of the beach alongside Joseph’s father.

“[Joseph’s father] hugged me and started crying and he said, ‘I just want some news, it can be good news or bad news’.”

Gallage said the local fisherman told the families to search Hamiltons Gap for the boy, where he was eventually found by search and rescue teams.

Gallage thanked all of the police, rescue services, victim support and the Sri Lankan community for supporting the family.

“He had a great future ahead of him.”

The death had been incredibly difficult for the family, especially for the brother who was in the water when it happened.

“He was the one who saw him drowning.”

Gallage said when the boys went swimming lifeguards had packed up and left the beach around half an hour earlier.

“It’s really important for people to think twice if not thrice, before they take part in any activity.

“Those preventable incidents should be prevented.”

A Givealittle page has been set up to support the family with funeral expenses, and it also aims to donate some funds raised to Surf Lifesaving NZ.

“Together, we can honour Hiran’s memory by advocating for safer shores and ensuring no family has to endure such a devastating loss.”

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