Regional | Far North

Fundraising page created for young cousins who died in Far North swimming hole crash

A fundraising page set up to help the families of two young cousins who died in a swimming hole tragedy in the Far North has raised more than $55,000 in less than 24 hours.

The GoFundMe page said family and friends had lost “two irreplaceable lights in our lives,” cousins Sonny, 6, and Eddie, 4.

The boys were “doing what they loved best—hanging with their cuzzys, going on adventures, exploring, and running wild” on their grandmother’s farm, the page said.

A Facebook post from another grieving family member said Sonny was from Perth and Eddie was from Taupaki, northwest of Auckland.

Police reported an ATV-style vehicle rolled into a swimming hole in the Waikāinga Stream, near Peria, at about 5.15 pm on December 29. The boys’ bodies were recovered the next day.

Four of the six on board were able to make it out of the water and were taken to hospital with minor to moderate injuries.

The GoFundMe page said the vehicle was sent careering into an 11-metre-deep swollen waterhole after it struck a boulder.

“No words can capture the magnitude of loss we feel or the unique spark that made Sonny and Eddie so extraordinarily special to us all.”

The fundraiser has a target of A$150,000 (NZ$161,650) to support the boys’ families, including repatriation, funeral expenses, and ongoing bills. By late morning Tuesday, 20 hours after the page was set up, more than A$51,280 had been raised.

The Facebook page said Sonny was “our little sunshine, our bug-man, our fruit-bat, our sunny-bunny, our cheeky-monkey”.

“Eddie was our gorgeous little boy who was so cheeky and cheerful, full of adventure, and so full of light he would brighten every room he walked into.”

The post also thanked local iwi from Kauhanga Marae and Northland emergency services for the support and help provided.

Te Paatu ki Kauhanga Trust Board said a rāhui would remain on a section of Waikāinga Stream until Sunday morning. It included no swimming and no collection of any sort of kai.

NZME quoted a family spokesman, saying the vehicle involved was a multi-seat vehicle rather than a regular ATV.