13-Month-Old Toddler Dies in Fiji After Falling Overboard on Family’s Boat While Parents Were Cooking in the Galley 

A New Zealand family is mourning the loss of their 13-month-old child, Māhina Toki, after a tragic boating incident that occurred in Fiji on July 28. The little girl’s parents were cooking a meal in the galley of their 10-metre catamaran Kalamari when Māhina freed herself from her harness and fell overboard. 

The family docked their catamaran at Musket Cove in Malolo Lailai, Fiji two days prior after sailing all the way from Great Barrier Reef, New Zealand. The parents strapped their child into a harness on the deck and the little girl was watching a movie while her parents cooked in the galley – but then tragedy struck. 

When the parents returned to the deck, their little girl was nowhere to be found. They searched the entire boat, but nothing came of it until they looked in the water – Māhina was floating in the sea all by herself. They retrieved her body and rushed to shore, where others came to their aid in hopes of saving the girl. 

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Despite doctors and other medical staff rushing to the family’s aid, their attempts at saving the girl were unsuccessful. Musket Cove Resort manager Joe Mar expressed shock at the tragic incident, while Island Cruising New Zealand owner Viki Moore detailed how traumatizing it was for everyone who bore witness.

“They did all they could to help them,” Moore said in an interview with the New Zealand Herald – adding that it’s common practice to tether a child on the deck. “I don’t know what happened in this case, but it is very sad.” The family wasn’t a part of the cruising rally, but some of their patrons tried to help save Toki.

Musket Cove is a popular destination for those wanting to get a taste of the beautiful sights and sounds that Fiji offers – Moore says there are roughly 85 boats that take part in her rally from New Zealand to Fiji every year, but estimates that more than 100 other boats travel independently – like Māhina’s family.

Authorities in the Fiji area were still investigating the incident when news of Māhina’s death made the news – it’s unclear if that investigation is ongoing. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was also aware of the death and was providing police with consular assistance during the investigation.

Family Returns to New Zealand From Fiji – Without Their Little Girl

In the days following the tragic incident at the Musket Cove marina in Fiji, a friend of the grieving family created a donation page on the popular crowdfunding site Givealittle. The page is no longer active, but it reportedly raised nearly $21,000 by July 30 ‘to cover the cost of flights back home and funeral expenses.’

“Māhina was a beautiful, happy, smiling child who loved the water and life on the boat. Her mother, Kiri, said she had eyes that looked into your soul from the [day] she was born,” the Givealittle page description read. “To the beloved Māhina, may you forever live in peace, splashing with joy somewhere in the sea.” 

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At the time, the grieving family was in the process of ‘picking up their lives’ as they made the trip back home – without their little girl. “Mahina’s parents, Mark and Kiri, are in the process of picking up their lives and traveling back to their home of Great Barrier Island, New Zealand,” the Givealittle description added.

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