A significant police presence has gathered, as well as members of the local community, victim support and the Red Cross. It is expected family who have been out at sea will soon dock in Whakatāne, as well as members of Ngati Awa.
The mayor, Judy Turner, is also on the wharf and a large white charter ship is now approaching the dock.
More locals are arriving at the wharf, carrying handfuls of pink and red balloons. A woman in her 90 s just walked onto the wharf clutching two framed photos of one of the local guides who lost his life on White Island.
Dozens of family members are arriving now, including children, who are clutching large helium balloons in the shape of hearts with ‘I love you’ written on them