Muriwai is a wild beach with stunning and dramatic scenery on Auckland’s west coast. This rugged area is a favourite spot for the outdoorsy types, be they surfers, swimmers, fishermen, land yachties, or trampers, to name but a few.
Last weekend the man and I made a trip to this spot for a very different purpose. We were there to attend the wedding reception of our son and new daughter in law. The function was held at the local surf club, a spectacular structure situated just back from the beach. As befitting a joyous celebration, the sounds of laughter and music filled the air late into the night.
A mere four weeks earlier, the noises that pierced the silence here were quite a different affair. Sadly, it was a cacophony of sirens, rotor blades and, no doubt, distressed and emotional people, which disturbed the quiet of the twilight back then.
You see Muriwai Beach, which is 60 kilometres long, is a designated road. On that Sunday afternoon, four young men from other parts of the world decided to make the most of the lovely weather and take a four wheel drive along the beach.
In conditions considered to be perfect for the outing, the vehicle rolled. Eye witnesses’ accounts said that the vehicle flipped multiple times, throwing all but one of the occupants out. Three of the men were reported to be deceased by the time the rescue teams arrived, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the fourth passed away at the scene shortly afterwards. The news that New Zealanders sat down to watch that night showed images of the surf club as this was the building the dead were airlifted to that fateful night.
As I walked through the expansive premises of this facility last week, I thought of the four young men whose day out having fun had ended so tragically for them. They were a similar age to our son. I also thought of their nearest and dearest. To them, Muriwai will always be remembered as the place where their beloved sons’ and brothers’ lives ended. In contrast, the man and my memories’ of this beautiful west coast beach are ones of happiness.
It is neither appropriate or important for me to second guess why the accident occurred. I hope, however, that despite the tragic ending, the families recognise and take solace in the fact that the young men were out there having fun and embracing life that day.
A death, particularly one that is unexpected, is always a salutary reminder that there are no guarantees in life. The only option we have is to make the most of each day we have on this earth and live our life to the full.