Children of North Cape shipwreck victim remember ‘incredible’ dad

A Te Awamutu builder who died after a charter boat ran into trouble off the North Cape on Sunday night and sank has been remembered as a loving family man who enjoyed rugby and fishing.

Mark Sanders was one of 10 people aboard the Enchanter, from Mangonui, which had been fishing off Manawatāwhi/Three Kings Islands for several days when it was hit by a rogue wave.

Five people were rescued and taken to hospital in Kaitāia. They have since been released.

The 43-year-old was among four bodies found in the water on Monday. The search resumed on Tuesday to find a missing person.

Sanders was remembered by his children – Ali, 12; Siena, 15; and Reese, 17 – as a funny, loving dad who would do anything for his kids.

“Always supporting everyone, always there for us – he was a legend,” Sienna said.

“He loved us so much. He would do anything for his family. He would literally do anything for us. He was amazing,” Reese added.

“He was a truly amazing person.”

Sanders’ latest project was to renovate his family’s home, after taking six months off for the mammoth task.

“He was actually having the best time just at home with us, hanging out with us — which honestly couldn’t have come at a better time,” Reese said.

Sanders was also an avid rugby player, fisherman and horse racer.

Reese said they last spoke to their father on Sunday evening, after not having cell phone service for most of the trip.

“It was a good time to talk to him then, actually,” she said.

“He phoned us, we all got to talk to him, which was good. He was really happy, he was having a great time, which is great.”

Reese recalled their last conversation with him, beaming with pride as he talked about “that real big fish” he had just caught.

“This big kingfisher he caught, he was really excited about it. It was huge,” she said.

She said their father “always wanted to go” to Manawatāwhi/Three Kings Islands.

“He kept talking about it. So excited.”

READ MORE: ‘He was my mate’ – Father mourns son who died in boating tragedy

“He said he was having the time of his life, really having fun,” Ali added.

They said they became aware of the incident after receiving a call from the partner of one of their father’s best friends on Monday morning.

“We weren’t sure if Dad was one of the five survivors, then later that day we found out he was dead,” Sienna said.

READ MORE: Rāhui in place as 4 dead and 1 missing in nautical tragedy off North Cape

As the children are devastated by their sudden loss, they will continue to remember him as a human person who would do anything for anyone.

“It’s kind of surreal, like it happened to him, to everyone… Yeah, I’m gonna miss him,” Sienna said.

Reese said she was “just devastated”, adding that they “got on really well”.

“We became very close and he was always there for me,” she said.

It’s going to be hard without him, but we’ll get through it. It doesn’t seem real, but it’ll – it’ll get better, I’m sure.

“I know he’s going to look down on us, he just wants us to make him proud, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

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