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Man who died on Moutohora Island named

Moutohorā Island, also known as Whale Island. Photo: Elaine Fisher.

Police have released the name of the man who died on Moutohora Island, also known as Whale Island on Thursday April 4.

He was 73-year-old Lionel Nowell of Whakatane.

A police spokesperson says police extend their sympathies to Mr Nowell’s family at this difficult time.

“Police and Worksafe New Zealand are investigating the circumstances of the death.”

It was announced yesterday that all tour operations on the island had been suspended following the death.

The Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter attended on Thursday and Lionel was airlifted to Tauranga Hospital, but died on Friday evening.

“We are all deeply saddened and devastated by this tragic accident and we send our thoughts and aroha to the deceased’s whanau,” says Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Chairman, Paul Quinn.

“We are looking to see what support we can provide to them at this very difficult time.”

WorkSafe and the Department of Conservation, which administers Moutohora Island and its tracks, are both conducting investigations into the incident.

White Island Tours are co-operating fully with both investigations, and will participate in any coronial enquiry, if and when that occurs.

The Department of Conservation has suspended all tour operations on Moutohorā Island while the investigations are ongoing.

“Until the Worksafe and DOC investigations are complete, we are unfortunately not able to make any further public comment on the incident,” says Paul.

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