Family and community pay respects to hero Aggie

Relatives of Aggie Auelua and Fingal Head residents lay flowers on a surfboard dedicated in her name.
Relatives of Aggie Auelua and Fingal Head residents lay flowers on a surfboard dedicated in her name. Liana Turner

THE Fingal Head community opened its arms on Sunday to grieve the loss of New Zealand woman Aggie Auelua, who died after trying to save a nine-year-old boy who was washed off the headland on October 10.

As if they could feel the pain of the crowd gathered on the beach, a pod of whales waved their sympathies off the shore, while hundreds of community members and dozens of Aggie Auelua's relatives from New Zealand gathered on the beach.

The surf lifesaving club carried out a rescue board with Aggie's name.

On the board, they carried flowers from loved ones, rescuers and strangers.

Relatives at the ceremony described Ms Auelua as a "selfless and loving" woman who "loved children".

Fingal Surf Life Saving Club president Steven Kudzius said he hadn't expected quite so many people to attend the ceremony.

He said it was "very special" Ms Auelua's family was able to attend.

"Aggie's legacy will live on in the surf with her name on that board," Mr Kudzius said.

Constable Max Van de Scheur, one of the two police officers who went out to assist during the incident, attended the ceremony.

"To be able to help the family and community grieve, I think that's a very important thing," Const Van de Scheur said.

Fingal local Dawn Walker said she was pleased to see such a strong show of support for the family and rescuers.

"It was very moving to see so many of the local community come out to support the family and also to support the locals that had shown such bravery in trying to save Aggie," Ms Walker said.

"I was very proud of the community because they do come together in times of tragedy like this and offer great support.

"What was so wonderful and moving to see yesterday was that they so generously extend that love and support to anyone who comes to Fingal."

Ms Walker said she was proud of the community's support of Ms Auelua's family.

"The love and support the Fingal community showed the family was very much appreciated, and I think gave them a lot of strength over the loss of their daughter and friend," she said.

"It's special to be living in a community with such brave, loving, generous, gentle people," she said.

Councillor Bary Longland said he wanted Ms Auelua's family to know the locals shared their pain.

"It's an unimaginable tragedy," Mr Longland said.

"I wanted them to know that the community supports them."

Ms Auelua's family will return to New Zealand for a traditional Maori funeral.

Topics:  drowning fingal head hero memorial surf lifesaving

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