Teen who died in Whangārei caving tragedy named: 'Our beautiful boy'

Thu, May 11
Flowers left outside the caves as people pay their respects to the student.

The Whangārei Boys' High School student who died during a caving trip on Tuesday has been named.

He was Karnin Ahorangi Petera.

His name was released to 1News by his whānau.

"It is with deep sadness that we wish to inform you that our beautiful boy Karnin Ahorangi Petera has indeed tragically passed away during the unfortunate incident at the Abbey Caves."

Karnin died after the school group of 15 year 11 students and two adults got into difficulty at Abbey Caves near Whangārei when the region was hit by heavy rain.

Yesterday, a student, who wished to remain anonymous, told 1News the group had been in the Organ Cave "for around an hour" before they got into trouble.

"We were halfway through the cave when the water started coming at us. We floated back with the current to get out. It was really fast, like five minutes," he said.

He said it took the group around 15 minutes to get to their location and "five minutes to get back" due to the strength of the current. He was unsure how Karnin was separated from the group.

With no reception, one of the students ran to get help from a concrete cutter who called 111.

Whangārei Boys' High School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith told 1News yesterday the school was "devastated" by the death.

"The impact of this tragedy is being felt widely among our school staff, students and wider community."

She would not comment on why the trip went ahead.

A Givealittle page to support Karnin's whānau has been established.


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