Sunday, 29 Nov 2020

Police name person found dead on Pāpāmoa beach after two day search

Tauranga Police have named the person found dead on Pāpāmoa beach.

Western Bay of Plenty area response manager Senior Sergeant Shannon Clifford said the man found on the beach was Michael Joseph Finekifolau, 22, of Auckland.

Finekifolau had not returned from a swim at Mount Maunganui on Saturday, November 7.

“Our thoughts are with his whānau at this time and Police continue to provide them with support,” Clifford said.

“Police would also like to thank those involved in the search operation over the weekend including Surf Life Saving New Zealand members from the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service and Ōmanu and Pāpāmoa emergency call-out squads.”

Finekifolau’s death will be referred to the Coroner.

Earlier, Tauranga Police said the body was found by a member of the public who notified police around 7am.

The body was recovered and a blessing performed.

A person living near a beach accessway confirmed to the Bay of Plenty Times they had found the body and had given a statement to police, but did not want to comment further.

Finekifolau failed to return to shore just after 10am Saturday after swimming with two others off Marine Parade.

A large group of police had earlier today been seen near the western end of Karewa Parade.

The body was found at low tide about 15km east from where the swimmer went missing on Saturday morning.

Karewa Parade resident Alex Jamieson, 79, has lived on the street since 2003.

He said it was a popular stretch of beach and a close neighbourhood.

“It is very sad to have something happen so close. I just feel for the family who have lost their loved one, whatever the circumstances.”

Jamieson was cooking breakfast when he first saw the police on the beach.

“Then I saw others who weren’t police join, for a blessing.”

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