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Australia

New Zealand dad drowns while saving kids at Sydney beach

A 35-year-old Kiwi man reportedly drowned at a New South Wales beach in Australia on Boxing Day.

Seti Tuaopepe died while saving his children after they fell into the water off a paddleboard, multiple sources have reported.

He is understood to be a New Zealand national, Newshub has reported.

Emergency services were called to Penrith Beach in west Sydney just after 2.30pm after a man was seen going underwater near a paddleboard and not resurfacing.

Tuaopepe held his children above water until a rescuer arrived but was unable to save himself, Kavina Tonga said.

Penrith resident John Savill told the Daily Mail he talked to Tuaopepe just 10 minutes before he disappeared in the water.

“He had his three kids, I think they were all around 10 years old, a year or two either side of that.”

The family was sitting on the paddleboard when they fell into the water and “panicked”, as they appeared to be unable to swim.

“By the time I got there, we got all three kids onto the paddleboard and he was less than a metre away from me and then a second later he had disappeared,” Savill told Daily Mail.

The beach was closed to the public while rescue boats, helicopters and police divers searched for the man.

The body of a 35-year-old man was located at around 6.15pm by emergency crews.

The artificial Sydney beach had only been open one week before the drowning.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said: “We are aware of reports of a drowning in New South Wales, Australia. We have not been contacted by anyone for assistance.”

Tuaopepe is understood to have lived in Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

Information on assistance available to families when a New Zealander dies overseas is available at: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/death