Original story from www.stuff.co.nz
Plucked from the water after being missing for three days, Robert Hewitt had a shock message for his rescuers: "I’ve been swimming all the time."
For 75 hours he had been given up for dead, his family praying only for his body to be returned.
A former navy diver, Mr Hewitt, 38, the brother of former All Black Norm Hewitt, had failed to surface from a routine dive off Mana Island on Sunday.
Last night the father-of-three declared that "the love of my fiancee and family is what got me through".
"Appropriate karakia (prayer) to Tangaroa (Maori god of the sea) and to all the friends and well-wishers out there."
The prayer – which Mr Hewitt said in Maori – translated as "a great big thanks to you all". His rescue has confounded experienced divers, with the head of the navy dive squad saying it was unheard of in his 30-year experience.
Mr Hewitt’s disappearance sparked a massive search-and-rescue effort. His family gave him up for dead – till 4pm yesterday.
That was when searchers on the Wellington maritime police launch Lady Elizabeth III spotted a black wetsuit hood floating in the water northeast of Mana Island.
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