Divers searching for Upper Hutt man, missing in harbour after falling from boat

News from NZ Police
Hutt Valley Police have requested the assistance of the Navy Dive Team in the search for the 49-year-old man who fell into the Hutt River on Sunday. The Team will fly from Auckland by Hercules today and expects to be in the water by this afternoon.

The team is able to use Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit (REMUS) sonar equipment to survey the sea floor which dive teams can then explore in greater detail. It is expected that the Navy Dive Team survey will take up to two days.

The man at the centre of the search is Uikilifi Peniamina, of Upper Hutt.

Senior Sergeant Steve Harwood says “We appreciate the Navy assisting us in the search so that we can provide every reassurance to Mr Peniamina’s family that everything was done to reunite them”.

Wellington.Scoop – January 7
Searchers are today continuing to look for the body of a man who fell from a small boat at the mouth of the Hutt River on Sunday.

News from NZ Police – January 6
The search for the 49-year-old man who fell into the water at the entrance to the Hutt River yesterday has continued today. The Police Launch Lady Elizabeth IV and officers on the shore conducted an extensive shoreline search from the mouth of the Hutt River south along the coast of Wellington Harbour. This has not resulted in the discovery of any items of interest or signs of the missing man. Further shoreline searches are planned for tomorrow.

Poor visibility levels in and around the Hutt River mouth have prevented the Police National Dive Squad from being deployed.

Police are still contacting family members so are unable to release the name of the man until they have been advised.

The other occupant of the boat has spoken with Police and inquiries are continuing into why the pair were in the area. Inquiries have confirmed that the man was not wearing a life jacket when he fell into the water.

Senior Launchmaster of the Wellington Maritime Unit, Senior Constable Craig Pickering, says “Events like this continue to underscore the importance of always wearing a life jacket when you are on the water. River conditions can change rapidly after heavy rain and people can get into strife surprisingly quickly”.

News from NZ Police – January 5
A search is underway for a man who is missing in Wellington Harbour off the entrance to the Hutt River. The man, in his 40s, was in a small boat with a friend just after 5pm when he fell into the water and was swept into the main harbour by the current. It is believed he was not wearing a life jacket.

Wellington Maritime Police, Coastguard and Airport Fire Rescue boats were all activated for a sea search, complemented by an air search by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and a large number of Police staff along the shoreline.

The Hutt River is at a very high level and is extremely discoloured due to the outflow of the last periods of rain, making conditions dangerous and underwater visibility nonexistent.

It is understood the two persons were retrieving nets.

This incident was complicated when Westpac and Airport Fire resources had to be temporarily diverted to investigate a report of a boatie being swept out to sea near Lyall Bay.

At the same time a report was received of four persons who had fallen out of their boat in Titahi Bay, and staff were sent to that event also.

Fortunately both incidents were resolved quickly without issue and the full search of the Hutt River incident was resumed, however the missing person has yet to be found.


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