Locals mourn shock loss of Waitākere teens

Waitākere locals are mourning the shock loss of teenagers Mitch Woolley and Sosi Turagaiviu who died after being swept away in flash flooding despite being described as strong swimmers.

The rain has subsided but tributes flow for the two young men who lost their lives yesterday.

Waitākere local Paraone Tai Tin says, “We send our biggest condolences out to all the families who are grieving at this hard time.”

Woolley and Turagaiviu were swimming with friends when the river suddenly rose.

Waitākere Duty Inspector Fata Will Fanene says, "The young men who are all 17 years of age from Auckland tried to get on some rocks on one side of the stream, however, the levels of water continued to rise and became very rough."

Fanene says it was concerning there were many other groups in the ranges despite the weather forecast.

"At this point in time the level of waters have subsided but if it continues to rain then I think we should all be concerned that the levels of water will rise again."

The track to Cascade Falls has now been closed and a prohibition by local iwi remains as threats of kauri dieback continues in the regional park.

Tai Tin says, “Iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki knows that if the prohibition is listened to the kauri which is a huge part of our forests will suffer and so will the benefits it holds for us as people.”

Police say it was heartbreaking that rescue efforts were unsuccessful. The deaths have been referred to the Coroner.