A 29-year-old woman has drowned at Tahunanui Beach near Nelson. A police spokeswoman said a man and a woman got into trouble while swimming at low tide in clothing.
“They were struggling to get to the shore. “The man managed to pull the woman out of the water at around 1.30am.”
Inspector Tim Crawford, of Nelson, said he had been told the man and woman were Indian, but it had not been confirmed if they lived in New Zealand or were visitors.
The woman was identified as Teena Kunjappan, a native of Kundara, Kollam, Kerala, India and was in New Zealand on spouse visa.
Ms Kunjappan’s husband Jilu C. John, who arrived in New Zealand on a student visa and was currently on a work visa which expires in August later this year.
Apparently, Mr and Mrs John went for a beachside walk after midnight when they decided to enter into water and got into trouble.
The woman died at the scene and the man was taken to Nelson Hospital in a moderate condition. He was treated and discharged.
The death will be referred to the coroner. Nelson-Marlborough Rescue Helicopter pilot Barry McAuliffe said they were called at 1.45am on Tuesday. He said at least two people were swimming at the time.
The rescue helicopter flew along the beach a couple of times before McAuliffe spotted people sitting in the shallows on the edge of the water. They landed on the beach next to the person needing medical attention.
“The medic jumped out and rushed over to attend and confirmed the person was deceased shortly after.” McAuliffe said they had just landed back in Nelson from a job in Kaikōura when they were asked to attend the beach drowning. “We had a really quick response because the engine was still running and it’s a 30 second hop over to Tahuna beach.”\
Mr John is wanting to take Teena’s body back home to her native place in Kerala, India.
The High Commission of India is informed about the tragic incident and is in touch with the close friend of Mr John, Vishnu, who is supporting him and coordinating with other authorities.
The news has brought grief to the Malayali community and the wider Indian community around the country.
Secretary of Auckland Malayali Samajam Blessan M Jose is in touch with the friends and family of Mr John and is rallying the members of Samajam to provide support to the family at this hour.
A Givealittle page to rally community support for helping the family in body repatriation is in progress.