Surfer send-off for ‘incredible fighter’ taken too soon
The tight-knit Moffat Beach community is mourning the loss of an "incredible fighter" after he passed away on Sunday following a long battle with cancer.
Heremaia 'Maia' Ngamanu took his final breath with "love and peace in his heart", close friends say, leaving a hole in the community where his kindness and warmth once brought people together.
The 46-year-old talented photographer and surfer was loved and a friend to many, always offering a helping hand and a kind word in the surf.
Maia's death has been a sad loss to the beachside town, but those who knew and loved him took comfort that he was finally at peace.
Close friend Esther Bundellu said Maia had been sick for a long time but had shown incredible strength through his journey with cancer.
"We always knew that it was terminal, but just through his strength of character and … will to live, he has always put on a brave face," she said.
His friends all say Moffat Beach won't be the same without him.
"His kindness was overwhelming and it's something that you felt immediately in his presence," Ms Bundellu said.
Ms Bundellu, owner of The Pocket Espresso Bar where Maia would often hang out between surfs, said when news of his death spread through the community, she was "bombarded" with messages about how he could have the send-off he deserved.
In a fitting tribute for the surfer, his close friends and community have organised a paddle out at Moffat Beach on Sunday, August 2 at 6am where his sister, Chanel Ellery, will scatter some of his ashes in the bay.
Before his death, Ms Bundellu asked the community to share messages of love so he could see how much he meant to those who knew him in his final days.
"You often see when people pass away, their message boards are filled with messages of saying how good a friend you are or what a beautiful person," she said.
"What's the good then? Tell them now, before it's too late."
She said Maia was overwhelmed by the support and took his final breath knowing how much he was loved.
"It's a loss for the community, he was such a special person. He's missed so much already, he's the type of person you would never want to say goodbye to," she said.
"We knew that he passed with love and peace in his heart."
Everyone is welcome at the paddle out, but organisers will ensure attendees follow the State Government's COVID-19 guidelines.
Queenslanders are allowed to gather in groups of 100 in public spaces since stage three of the road map to easing restrictions was introduced on July 3.
For more, visit The Pocket Espresso Bar's Facebook page.