TRIBUTES have been paid to a Warwick University student who died while kayaking in New Zealand.
James ‘Skiver’ Murphy died after a strong wing tipped him into the icy waters of Lake Tekapo about 250km southwest of Christchurch.
The 20-year-old philosophy student had been studying at Monash University in Australia as part of an exchange programme and was visiting New Zealand with fellow students during the Australian half term holiday.
James and 10 other people, who are all reportedly in their 20s, had hired kayaks for a trip on the popular lake when they ran into difficulty.
New Zealand Police said an easterly wind picked up to an estimated 20 knots and plunged the kayakers into freezing water for over an hour.
Daniel Hollnsteiner, aged 21 from New York, also died in the accident.
A spokesperson for New Zealand Police added: “All survivors were suffering from hypothermia and a small number required hospitalisation at Timaru Hospital.
“An investigation will take place, looking at the reasons this tragedy occurred.”
Leading the tributes to James, close friend Emma Cary said those who had known him – even for a short while – would ‘know what we have all truly lost’.
Describing him as a ‘skinny North of London lad’, Emma reminisced about the way his face lit up when he laughed and his lack of attendance in seminars which earned him the affectionate nickname, ‘Skiver’.
A keen footballer and avid Arsenal fan, James was also responsible for setting up the Warwick Philosophy Football team.
“You could honestly talk to him about anything,” said Emma.
“It took a lot to put that smile away as Skiver saw happiness in everything, particularly in the people around him.
“We have lost an exceptional individual who really made a difference in the world.
“He didn’t cure cancer, he didn’t solve world conflicts, and he didn’t fully establish a ground-breaking philosophical treatise.
“But he did cure cancerous thoughts that plagued and hurt his friends, and also helped resolve inner conflicts of all those around him with his winning smile and sage mind.”
Emma also urged people to remember James as the ‘three dimensional gentleman he really was’ rather than the victim of a tragic accident.
She added: “I think we are all grateful for how many people he let fill every crevice of his huge heart.”
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