As a mark of respect to the Southon family, who lost father and son, Darren, 48, and Josh, 11, in a diving tragedy at Mataikona on Friday, the Times-Age is running this family statement in full. The photo of Joshua and Darren [at right] was supplied by Darren’s wife and Joshua’s mother, Lisa Southon.

“Darren was an adventurous, fun-loving man, who was a giant kid at heart. He was a bit of a joker, who also had a serious side to him. He loved his cycling and had a passion for his work as a builder. He was well respected within the entire community.

Joshua was a chip off the old block, just like his dad, he gave everything a go, he was a competent young boy at everything he put his hand to. He adored his father and loved hanging out with him whether it be cycling, motorbike riding or splitting wood together.

Both Darren and Joshua touched the hearts of many people.

We want to extend a huge thanks to the entire community.

To the Search and Rescue team, consisting of the Westpac Helicopter, Amalgamated Helicopters, the Police launch Lady Elizabeth IV, and those in the fishing competition that was on at the time that received the call to get every boat that was available across to the search area – they were there within minutes. Some of those people on board the boats responded to the distress call without knowing who was involved, but ultimately some of them discovered that they knew Darren and Joshua.

We want to thank all the people involved from:

The locals and the bach-goers who responded with the low-tide beach search that went through until about 2am on Saturday with torches;

Those who kept a beachside vigil overnight;

The volunteers of Mataikona Fire and Emergency;

The Whakataki Hotel and the many people who brought food, water, phone chargers, hugs, and rugs during that time;

To the Riversdale Surf Lifesaving Club;

Reverend Sally Tahana for her blessing and prayers on site;

Kaitiaki William Broughton for placing the Rahui;

Iwi Liaison Officer Joe Harwood;

To the Police themselves;

and the National Police Dive Squad who did an amazing job with the search bringing our boys home.”

  • Statement from Joe Southon, brother of Darren and uncle of Joshua Southon, on behalf of the family