Auckland City Police are saddened and dismayed at the news that Judith (Judy) Lorraine Palmer, the 62 year-old wife of Chief Inspector John Palmer, drowned when swimming in a lagoon near where the couple was staying in Rarotonga, yesterday afternoon.
A close family friend of the couple, 64 year-old Robert (Bob) Groves also died during an attempt to assist Mrs Palmer. The deceased were neighbours from Birkenhead. Their bodies were recovered by locals about an hour after tragedy struck.
The two couples were in Vaimaanga, Rarotonga for the Palmers' daughter's wedding which was scheduled to happen today but which has since been postponed.
Auckland City District Commander, Superintendent Mike Clement, says the double tragedy has hit Chief Inspector Palmer and his wider family hard.
"We are all reeling from the news and can only imagine the magnitude of the devastation John, his family and the Groves family are feeling.
"I know personally that the trip to Rarotonga for Vanessa's wedding was to be the highlight of the year for John and Judy and that much planning and anticipation surrounded it.
"I and Commissioner Peter Marshall have spoken with John on several occasions in the past 24 hours and have offered our absolute support and assistance to help him, his daughter and their friends through this very distressing time.
“Commissioner Marshall has also spoken to the Commissioner of the Cook Islands Police and thanked him for the support he is giving to the Chief Inspector and his family.”
John and Judy Palmer had been married for 42 years. Chief Inspector Palmer has served with New Zealand Police for nearly 47 years, much of which has been in Auckland City District.