Rachel Rose (left) and Belinda Crichton stand in front of a
liquidambar planted in Queenstown Bay yesterday in memory
of former Queenstown resident Ben Chardome. Photo by Tracey
A liquidambar was planted in Queenstown Bay yesterday in
memory of Ben Chardome, one of 298 people killed on ill-fated
flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in July.
At a ceremony attended by about 30 people, the tree was
planted between two park benches, overlooking a playground
and The Bathhouse restaurant, which Mr Chardome (51) co-owned
for more than 11 years.
Queenstown Lakes district councillor Craig Ferguson said
trees had previously been planted in the Queenstown Gardens
in memory of climbers who had died, but yesterday's planting
was a ''true indication of the community that we live in''.
''It's nice that we have this here in Queenstown Bay to
forever remember the life of Bathhouse Ben and what he gave
to our community.''
Mr Chardome was flying back to his home in Bali, Indonesia,
after a honeymoon trip to the United States and Europe with
his Malaysian husband, Putput.
The couple married in Antwerp in June.
Kathy Buckham, who knew Mr Chardome through the Citizens
Advice Bureau, said before his tragic death he was ''just so
In an email to her, Mr Chardome had said he had been
overwhelmed by the poverty and hardship in Bali and had set
about making his ''bachelor life so much more meaningful''.
He established a ''micro-loan'' system, purchasing piglets,
raising them and passing on subsequent piglets to families in
need; funding English and computer courses for people aged 15
to 20 and running emergency support services for tourist
Friend Belinda Crichton, who worked for Mr Chardome and then
became neighbours, said his death had left a gap in the lives
of all who knew him in Queenstown.
''We wish you had not been on flight MH17. We wish you had
decided not to go on that business trip.''
Rachel Rose said the Queenstown community was ''shocked and
devastated'' at Mr Chardome's death and contacted the
Queenstown Lakes District Council about a week after the
crash to inquire about the tree planting.
Within a day it had agreed to fund the purchase and planting,
The liquidambar had been chosen because of its colour,
particularly in autumn.