Topic: Water Safety

Restrictions in place for Rotorua river over recent death

By Taroi Black
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Restrictions have been placed on Te Awahou River in Rotorua due to an incident which led to Donald Bidois’ death, aged 51.  Local Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Tarimano Marae Trustee member Rongotipu-I-Te-Ata Flavell says, “First time someone ever drowned in there in all my life growing up there- it’s never happened.  So with this happening it’s turned a lot of people into turmoil.”

Emergency services arrived at the scene where karakia was conducted for his body to be removed.

“When something like that has happened- which is the first time that it happened in our awa (river)- is that the ‘rahui’ must be put in place before the body is taken away.  If the body is taken away and the rahui isn’t put in place then you can’t put it in after.  The wairua of the boy will remain in the awa if it’s not done before it’s taken away."

A coroner has yet to confirm the cause of Bidois death, however, the local iwi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi is urging swimmers or fishermen’s to respect their wishes.  

“Now the rahui has been put into place to allow the wairua to seven days cycle to flow.  Also to let the people know that somebody has drowned there.”

Tarimano Marae has been closed off for tangi (funeral) due to the redevelopment of their new dining hall however the family has found support with other marae.