The body of a young man discovered this morning in New Zealand is believed to be that of a missing Tongan teenager.
Police said a body has been recovered north of Piha Beach after it was spotted by the Police Eagle helicopter on Monday evening.
At this stage, Police believe it to be the 16-year-old Leka Pasiaka reported missing from Whatipu Beach on December 29, 2018.
A post mortem and a formal identification will now be carried out.
Police said they are unable to comment further at this time.
The teen had been at the beach with family members when someone raised the alarm that he had been caught in a rip.
The Avondale College student has been praised for his bravery after pushing his sister back towards safety when she swam out to try to save him, NZ Herald has reported.
Leka’s sister was taken to hospital. When she was discharged, she returned to the beach immediately; vowing she would not leave until her brother was found.
Family members including those who had travelled from Australia after hearing about the tragedy – have been keeping vigil at the beach since the young man went missing.
Friends and family have been staying at a nearby campsite, returning each day to see whether the sea might return the teenager.
Leka’s family have written messages on the beach – using sea shells and rocks – paying tribute to him. Other messages have been written in the sand with the simple message: “Come back, Leka.”
Meanwhile, friends of the teen have been posting messages of support and in remembrance to their mate – urging him to find his way home soon.