Tevita Kava missing after falling off boat

A Mangere man, who joked about not falling into the sea because he couldn’t swim, is still missing after he fell from a boat on the weekend.

Tevita Kava is originally from Tonga.

He joined others to celebrate a friend’s birthday on Saturday night when he fell off the boat in the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

According to a NZ Herald report, Kava’s devastated friends say another passenger also fell into the water, but was rescued, after leaning on the same barrier later in the night during a frantic search.

A full-scale search operation has been under way since police were called at 9.20pm on Saturday.

Kava's desperate family and friends had come out each day since the party and walked the coastline searching for any trace of him.

His little sister Ellie Sitaleki-Lovo said the family was suffering. Their father couldn't bring himself to speak, he just stared out to sea.

"It's been really hard. It's a tragic loss. We're still hoping to find him.

"He always put other people first. He was always giving and he'd never ask for anything."
Sitaleki-Lovo said their mother passed away a few years ago.

"Then it was just me and him. Now it's just me."

Jess Easthope called Kava her best friend. She said he was a boxer and had just graduated with his certificate in Christian ministry.

They would meet every Thursday and were trying to set up a service to feed the homeless.
He was beautiful, loving and generous, she said.

"He was my brother from another mother.

"I hope they find him. But I've got a funny feeling he got to heaven and said, 'Nope I'm staying'."

Police are leading the search with the help of Maritime NZ and the Navy, but Maritime New Zealand expected the investigation to be handed over to it eventually.