Tragic death of journalist
THE death by drowning of highly respected veteran New Zealand journalist and radio broadcaster Graeme ‘Moods’ Moody at the famed Angourie Point surfing break has sent shockwaves across the Tasman.
So much so his workplace colleagues at Wellington’s Newstalk ZB, could not bring themselves to broadcast regular programming yesterday, such was the level of esteem they and the New Zealand media industry held for the popular sports commentator.
Just as he had countless times before, the fit 60-year-old surfing fanatic excitedly jumped off rocks into large surf at Angourie, chasing the adrenaline rush only a surfer can describe.
But the joy of his last surf before he was due to fly home yesterday turned into tragedy when his leg rope snagged on rocks and he was pounded by waves.
A local surfer who was in the water when Mr Moody jumped off the rocks told The Daily Examiner how the tragedy unfolded.
The man – who did not want to be named – said he, another local and two Frenchmen were surfing at the point when Mr Moody walked across the rocks with his board.
“Graeme jumped off the rocks and was nearly out the back when two wider sets came through, which pushed him onto the corner of the point where his leg rope got stuck around a rock,” he said.
“It just pinned him there and he couldn’t move.
“We had two attempts at trying to get to him, but with the sweep dragging you down we were unable to get right next to him.”
The surfer said what unfolded around 12.45pm would stick with him forever.
“The constant flow of water just dragged him down and I think he died at that point.
“With the dead weight of his body his leg rope snapped and he floated in.”
He said other surfers sprang into action to try to help Mr Moody.
“One of the French blokes put him on his surfboard and we swam out and brought him in.
“We commenced CPR on the beach, but I think he had already passed away by then.”
Tributes flowed throughout Australasia for the man who showed extraordinary passion and devotion to his family and his craft.
Friend of 47 years and colleague Bryan Waddle told The Daily Examiner he had known Mr Moody since they went to college together.
Mr Waddle said Mr Moody was the type of person every parent would want their children to aspire to.
“He had a great devotion to his wife and a love of surfing,” he said.
“He was very friendly and sociable and really enjoyed life.
“He was an outstanding rugby commentator, very professional and full of integrity.”
He described Mr Moody as a passionate surfer with 40 years experience, who loved to chase the
perfect wave in New Zealand and on his annual pilgrimage to Australia.
“He used to take every opportunity he had to go and ride a wave.
“He had his 60th birthday last week on the NSW north coast while he was away on his surfing holiday.
“He had a van and he used to sleep in a mattress in the back when he went away surfing in New Zealand.
“He used to regularly surf with the same group of guys at a beach called Lyall Bay near Wellington airport, close to where he lived.
“He went on a surfing holiday to Australia pretty well every year at this time of year.
“He said he just loved going up the NSW coast surfing.”
Mr Moody’s passion for the ocean also extended to sailing.
“He obviously loved the sea, his brother used to have a yacht.
“He used to be a crew member on a yacht around Wellington Harbour in the local races of the Port Nicholson Yacht club.”
The renowned rugby union commentator had travelled the world with the All Blacks and usually managed to combine his love of the game with his love for surfing.
Mr Waddle said Mr Moody was the consummate professional, committed to doing his best in his career and living an exciting and rewarding life.
“He put his heart and soul into everything he did.”
“He never held back on anything he was doing and that was basically the way he lived his life,” said Mr Waddle.