NZ Local News

Two victims of Peria UTV accident are 4-year-old from Auckland and a 6-year-old from Perth

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The two victims of the Peria UTV (utility-terrain vehicle) river tragedy last Friday are a 4-year-old from Auckland and a 6-year-old from Perth holidaying at their grandmother’s farm.

The two young boys were cousins and a devastated family member posted on social media about the tragic loss.

Heartfelt condolences and aroha are being extended to the “distraught” Northland family who lost their two whānau members.

The two boys were exploring their grandmother’s farm when the accident happened.

A family member shared details of their loss on social media.

“No words can capture the magnitude of loss we feel, the unique spark that made [the two boys] so extraordinarily special to us all,” she wrote.

“Losing you both has shattered hearts beyond repair. Our hearts are forever broken for you and our family are unmendable.”

A rāhui was placed over Waikainga Stream in Peria after two cousins aged 4 and 6 were killed in a UTV accident. Image / Google Maps
A rāhui was placed over Waikainga Stream in Peria after two cousins aged 4 and 6 were killed in a UTV accident. Image / Google Maps

Emergency services and two rescue helicopters rushed to the Fern Flat Rd address in Peria, east of Kaitāia, soon after the accident, which happened about 5.15pm on December 29.

Police recovered two bodies from the swollen Waikāinga Stream the following day.

“On Friday 29th December 2023 at approximately 5.15pm, two little bright sparks went out from our lives,” a family member posted on Facebook.

“Cousins … aged 6, from Perth and … aged 4, of Taupaki, Auckland, were taken in a tragic UTV accident while on holiday in the far North of NZ, Peria, when the UTV they were travelling in crashed into a boulder, careering the vehicle into an 11-metre deep water hole at Waikainga Stream where no safety barriers were in place.”

The area is a popular swimming hole, with a rural gravel road running alongside it. There is a 6m sheer drop off the road into the water.

A family spokesman clarified with the Herald that the vehicle involved in the crash was a multi-seat vehicle and not a regular ATV (all-terrain vehicle) quad bike as has been reported.

“I mention it because there has been at least one speculative piece on TV about the perils of taking passengers on one-seat quad bikes, etc, which simply don’t apply to this situation,” the family spokesman said.

The driver of the UTV and three others who made it out of the water were taken to hospital with minor and moderate injuries.

“Our hearts are forever broken for you and are unmendable,” the family member wrote of the dead boys.

“Fly free with the grasshoppers and butterflies our little mate. We’ll always love you forever, even if you can’t see us and even on our darkest days … We will love you forever and ever and always.”

She described the boys as “cheeky, cheerful, full of adventure” and “so full of light he would brighten every room he walked into”.

“Words cannot paint a picture of how wonderful and special our wee boy was.”

A rāhui was placed on stream from Shephards Rd to the Pēria Saleyards bridge barring anyone from swimming or fishing.

Kaumātua from the local Kauhanga marae and Te Paatu (ki Kauhanga) hapū said it would be lifted on January 7 at 9am.

The marae extended their sincere aroha to the whānau.

Chairwoman Ngaire Tauhara-White said local hapū were offering their support and love at this difficult time.

The family were present for karakia at the scene and were “very distraught and emotional”, Tauhara-White said.

The family member extended her thanks to Tauhara-White and also Marsh Fletcher of Kauhanga Marae for their support, karakia and “ensuring rāhui of the place where we lost our babies”.

“We cannot convey enough thanks to the Northland Emergency Services and Sars for your amazing support and assistance throughout this ordeal,” she added.

Police are making enquiries on behalf of the coroner.

Far North Mayor Moko Tepania sent his aroha and prayers to the whānau.

“We are hugely appreciative of responders and the incredible work they do,” he said.

“With thousands of manuhiri [guests and visitors] joining Far Northerners over the break I ask whānau to take extra care when enjoying our district.”

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