SOON after dropping off her husband Adam for a swim at Muriwai Beach, Meg Strange received news that changed her life forever.
She was having coffee with a friend at the nearby cafe when they heard there had been a shark attack.
Mrs Strange tried to contact her husband, who she expected to be on the beach after swimming from nearby Maori Bay.
When there was no response, her friend sent a text message to Muriwai Lifeguard Service chairman Tim Jago.
"I got the text, 'I hear there's been a shark attack'," Mr Jago told the New Zealand Herald yesterday.
"I said, 'Yes, I'm on the beach now.'
And she said, 'I'm having a cup of coffee with Meg. She can't contact Adam.'
"And I had to send a text back saying, 'It was Adam.' That's how quickly it happened."
About a dozen support people met Mrs Strange at the surf club rooms - a new building for which Adam had worked hard to raise money.
The 46-year-old television commercial and film director was training for a King of the Bays ocean swim.
Mr Jago made the formal identification of Mr Strange, who suffered terrible injuries in the prolonged attack. The ferocity and determination of the 3-4m great white shark stunned those who rushed to help.
"He wasn't letting go. Normally two boats out there, guns being fired and being whacked over the snout with a paddle a couple of times would be enough."
The lifesavers knew within minutes who the victim was.
"We knew he was training there and someone said one of ours was out there, so we had a quick text around and no one could make contact with him."
Meg Strange returned to the beach yesterday with family and friends for a blessing ceremony.
Arm in arm, they took off their shoes and let the waves lap at their feet while local iwi wailed karakia into the waves.
Friend Adam Stevens said: "It was a very dramatic sort of way to go. I can't think of anything, in a strange sort of way, more fitting. He just needed an explosion or something thrown in there for good measure."
Family members were struggling to come to terms with their loss, Mr Stevens said.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet. [Adam's daughter] Indigo is 2, so it's not something she's comprehended yet. His wife is an incredibly strong woman ... but I don't think you can describe the shock and anguish she's going through."
The family were now concentrating on the funeral, which will be held on Monday afternoon at the surf club.
Eyewitness filmed police shooting of shark. Watch the video below
Teenage surfer haunted by shark attack ordeal
A 14-year-old surfer who was the last person to see Adam Strange alive says he is haunted by the ordeal.
George Maoate was surfing at Muriwai with a friend when he saw Mr Strange swimming.
"I was just beside him. I stopped and he carried on. He was way out and took a left ... and that was the final time we saw him."
Seconds later, he heard Mr Strange cry out for help - and the water turned "dark red".
"I was just sitting out there looking at the horizon seeing if there were any sets [of waves] and all of a sudden there was red. Just red everywhere."
George then saw a commotion on the shore. "The fishermen were going crazy yelling for help and the whole gannet colony just flew up and circled the area - I'd never seen anything like it."
He struggled to make sense of what was happening around him. "I couldn't think. It was happening too fast, adrenalin was pumping ..."
George could remember hearing Mr Strange's desperate cries for help and his frantic arm waving above the waves. He was going to kick his board towards him but when he next looked up, Mr Strange was gone.
On the beach, people yelled for everyone to get out of the water and it was then, when George heard the words "shark attack", that he realised what had happened and how close he had come to the killer.
"I was trembling. I couldn't think at all. No emotions. Just adrenalin pumping really bad."
The horror has stayed with him. "I re-lived the moment last night in my dream. I couldn't sleep that well ... It's just terrible."
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