Family and friends at the Manurewa house could only hug and cry together when told of the little girl's drowning, the eighth involving a preschooler this year.
Family and friends at the Manurewa house could only hug and cry together when told of the little girl's drowning, the eighth involving a preschooler this year. Photo / Nick Reed

1-year-old dies in pool mishap on Christmas day

FAMILY members arriving at a Christmas Day get-together found police cars outside the home after a little relative drowned in a swimming pool set up in the backyard.

The large Pacific Island family were left grieving for the "happy, beautiful" 1-year-old girl.

Emergency services were called to the house in Neems Place, a quiet, no-exit street in Manurewa, about 1pm.

A woman believed to be the child's mother could be seen later sitting on steps outside the house with her hands covering her face.

Family members, many of whom arrived at the property throughout the afternoon to offer support, slowly walked up the driveway arm-in-arm, hugged each other and cried together.

A relative told the Herald the dead girl was the youngest of five siblings and lived at the house.

Everybody was in shock, she said.

"We just turned up to give presents and stuff and saw all the police cars. It was pretty fresh. We must have come half an hour after the incident ... it happened so fast ...

"Christmas will never be the same, that's for sure."

A friend of the child's father said the temporary pool had only recently been purchased by the family.

The little girl who died had a lovely, vibrant personality, he said.

"She was a beautiful little girl, happy as - always smiling every day."

Several police cars were parked in the street yesterday afternoon and detectives interviewed family members both at the property and in unmarked patrol cars.

Some neighbours were holding their own Christmas gatherings.

The first sign of the accident had been raised voices and sirens, a man said.

Police said the death was a tragic reminder to parents and caregivers that young children should be directly supervised by an adult when they were around water.

The child's death has been referred to the coroner.

Figures from Water Safety New Zealand show there has been an increase in the number of drownings among preschoolers on last year.

Five died last year compared with eight this year, including yesterday's death.

Eighty-five people have drowned so far this year, compared with 103 as at December 22 last year.

Water toll

  • 8 preschoolers have drowned this year
  • 5 drowned last year
  • 85 people have drowned in total this year
  • 103 had died by the same time last year (as at December 22)


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