Father of two Tupou Veamatahau, 27, told the NZ Herald he saw an aircraft approaching his life raft and thought, "Oh, good. Thank you."
"No eat, no drink for three days. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday - nothing,'' he said.
Mr Veamatahau phoned a contact in Tonga on Saturday evening at 6pm Tonga local time to say the engine had broken down on his small five-metre fibreglass boat, as he was returning to Ohonua Harbour on Tonga's Eua Island.