WELLINGTON, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Seven men from three Pacific island nations were among the eight killed in a weekend boating tragedy in the north of New Zealand, the New Zealand Police said Monday.
A Police statement identified the men -- aged 31 to 59 -- as four Tongans, two Cook Islanders and a Samoan, who were part of New Zealand's Pacific island population.
One of the men -- Taulagi Afamasaga, 59, from Samoa -- was still missing, but was presumed drowned, said the statement.
The search would continue for the missing man.
The eighth man to die was skipper Bill McNatty.
Three men survived the accident after being thrown into rough seas, with two reportedly plucked from the water by a rescue helicopter and one making it to shore.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, which happened Saturday just outside the Kaipara Harbor, north of Auckland.
"There are a number of people we need to interview. We also need to work around the family arrangements for those who lost their lives in this tragic accident. This is not an easy time for those families," TAIC chief investigator Captain Tim Burfoot said in a statement Monday.
The group of 10 Pacific island men had reportedly hired McNatty and his charter boat, which was capable of carrying 20 people, for a fishing expedition.
Questions were being raised Monday as to why none of the men were found to be wearing life jackets and why McNatty had decided to cross one of the most dangerous stretches of water in New Zealand in bad weather.
The Kaipara Harbor is said to be the largest natural harbor in the southern hemisphere, but shipping long ago abandoned it as a port because the harbor entrance is notoriously dangerous and has claimed many wrecks.
The entrance, known as the Kaipara Bar, is narrow and its shifting sands make it unpredictable.