Police in Rarotonga have confirmed alcohol was a factor in the scooter crash that claimed the life of a young Navy seaman on shore-leave in Rarotonga last night.
The HMNZS Otago is currently in the Pacific conducting maritime patrols with regional authorities, and 22-year-old Able Seaman Combat Specialist, William Paratini Delamere had been in the South Pacific for the past month serving on the HMNZS Otago.
He was killed in a scooter accident, which happened next to where the HMNZS Otago was moored. He was on leave at the time, and personnel from the ship were the first at the scene.
Delamare was taken to Rarotonga Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1.30am Cook Island time (11.30pm New Zealand time).
An investigation into the event is being conducted by local police.
The death of the Defence Force sailor has sent shock-waves through the Navy, with the crew of the HMNZS Otago pulling together in the wake of the loss.
Maritime Component Commander Commodore John Martin said it is a tough day for the ship's crew and the sailor's family and partner.
"This is a sad day and, on behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, especially the Navy, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of William," Maritime Component Commander Commodore John Martin said.
He said William Delamare was highly-respected and a key member of a very close team, who had been with the ship for quite some time.
The Defence Force said it has notified the immediate families of all sailors involved and is providing them with assistance.
The ship's commander David McEwan said Delamare was a young man with an enormous future and his death has been keenly felt.
"William was never shy of getting stuck in and supporting his
shipmates as they went about the many and varied tasks whilst on
deployment," he said.
"Intelligent and of cheeky nature and quick wit, William embodied the very spirit of a young sailor enjoying his life at sea."
Earlier today the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae described the death of the young sailor as a "tragic loss".
Mateparae was onboard the ship earlier this month on a trip to Tokelau, and said its crew was a "tight-knit, hard-working and highly-skilled team."
"On behalf of all New Zealanders, my wife Janine and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and mates-in-arms of Able Seaman Delamere as they come to terms with their loss," he said.
Labour's defence spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway has also offered his condolences to Delamere's family and colleagues.
"I want to recognise his contribution and the contribution of all of our servicemen and woman who are often working and living far from their loved ones at home," he said.
Delamere's body will be brought home next week.
- With Newstalk ZB