Couple who drowned at Auckland's Muriwai Beach were refugees with nine children, one grandchild

The two people who were swept off rocks at Auckland's Muriwai Beach yesterday afternoon and drowned were a refugee couple from Burma who leave behind nine children and one grandchild.

Today police confirmed to 1 NEWS that Kay Dah Ukay, 48, and his wife Mu Thu Pa died while fishing off the rocks at the beach on the west coast.

Police also confirmed the couple had nine children.

A witness at the scene told 1 NEWS a man, Kay Dah Ukay, fell into the water first. The woman with him, Mu Thu Pa, used her fishing rod to try and help him out, before she was dragged in herself.

NZ Herald reports that the couple's three youngest children aged 13, 9 and 7 were with the couple when the accident occurred. 

Another daughter of the couple Dah Htoo Ukay, 25, told NZ Herald her father had been dragging in a catch when he slipped on the rocks and fell into the surf. 

"When they went fishing they got a big fish and tried to take it out," she said.

"He was slipping on the rock and fell in the water.

"My mother also tried to hold the rod. My younger sister tried to grab my mother, but she fell in the water too."

The remaining children reportedly then called for help.

A spokesperson for the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter says they were dispatched to the scene around 2.15pm yesterday and were told one of the patients, a man in his 40s, had drowned before they arrived.

The second patient, a woman, was receiving CPR when the rescue helicopter arrived.

After a period of time, despite all efforts to save her, the patient was confirmed deceased as well, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesperson said.

The Burmese couple and their older children had escaped from Burma into Thailand 20 years ago.

The family resided in a refugee camp on the Thai/Burmese border for the next 10 years.

They were resettled in New Zealand in January 2008.

Seven of the nine children of the couple are still living in the family home in Henderson.

A man and a woman were pulled from the water around 2pm this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

Iwi puts the brakes on statue idea for Auckland's Bastion Point, calling it 'an idea in its infancy'

Ngāti Whātua Orākei is putting the brakes on a proposed enormous sculpture at Auckland's Bastion Point, calling discussion of its installation "premature".

Auckland Council has allocated $1 million of funding to explore the possibility of the sculpture, which would depict the Māori earth goddess Papatūānuku.

An animation by Ian Taylor shows a concept statue in place on Auckland's waterfront at Wynyard Quarter.

Chair of the Ngāti Whātua Orākei Trust Deputy Chair Ngarimu Blair said in a statement yesterday that the concept animation for the statue is only a concept, and further discussion is needed on the potential for Māori tourism across the Auckland region in a wider context.

"Our iwi development arm has raised with the Council and local boards the idea of a culturally significant icon for Tāmaki Makaurau, as part of a wider discussion on tourism and future opportunities," Ms Blair said.

"Takaparawhau/Bastion Point is a significant place for our iwi, and for all who visit and live here.

"Any sculpture idea is just that – an idea in its infancy.

"The Trust believes that any potential sculpture or pou would have to be something that we can all be proud of, and that is well thought through.

"We would need to see a full proposal and consider this in a wider context before deciding to take the idea any further."

Discussion around the statue of Papatūānuku – the Earth Mother – are at early stages, but are already proving controversial. Source: 1 NEWS


Lava bomb smashes through roof of Hawaiian volcano tour boat, breaking a woman's leg

An explosion sent lava flying through the roof of a tour boat off Hawaii's Big Island, injuring at least 13 people overnight, officials said.

A 20-year-old woman suffered major leg trauma, and other passengers had burns and scrapes, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said.

The people were aboard a tour boat that takes visitors to see lava plunging into the ocean from a volcano that has been erupting for two months. Several companies operate such tours.

Officials have warned of the danger of getting close to lava entering the ocean, saying the interaction can create clouds of acid and fine glass.

The US Coast Guard in May instituted a safety zone where lava flows from the ocean off the Big Island. It prohibits vessels from getting closer than 300 metres from ocean-entry points.

The agency allows experienced boat operators to apply for a special license to get up to 150 metres from where lava sizzles into the sea.

The molten rock is coming from the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting from a rural residential area since early May and has destroyed more than 700 homes.

But until now, the only serious injury was to a man who was hit by flying lava that broke his leg.

Officials were interviewing injured passengers at a hospital.

A hole in the roof of a lava tour boat in Hawaii after a ball of lava crashed through it.
A hole in the roof of a lava tour boat in Hawaii after a ball of lava crashed through it. Source: Hawaii DLnR