Close to 4000 people gathered at Invercargill's Rugby Park
Stadium this morning for a combined funeral service of the
four men recovered from Easy Rider.
The four caskets were carried into the stadium and on to a
platform where they were laid side by side.
Maori karakia, hymn and waiata punctuated tributes to the
four friends, who were victims of Foveaux Strait's
They and five others were on a trip to the Muttonbird Islands
for the start of muttonbirding season when their fishing
vessel capsized and sank on March 15. Invercargill man Dallas
Reedy (44) survived and four of the others are unaccounted
John "Dukes" Karetai (58), Peter "Peter-Boy" Pekamu-Bloxham
(53), Shane Topi (29) and Boe Pikia-Gillies (28) were
farewelled by family, friends and loved ones on a grey, still
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt talked of nature's power and
the sheer energy created in Foveaux Strait at the meeting of
two massive oceans.
"All we can do is hold each other, grieve together, and on
behalf of the people of Southland we share with you today
that tragic loss and we will do everything we can to stand by
you," he said.
Officiator Gwen Neave, of Stewart Island, captured the
immensity of families' loss and that of the wider community.
"Just one week ago the sinking of the Easy Rider cast a pall
over the beginning of this year's muttonbirding season. It
shocked the communities of Bluff and Riverton and the wider
Southland area, and indeed the whole country focused on the
horror and drama of Easy Rider's fate and was united by the
desire for a miracle rescue of all on board," she said.
Ms Neave acknowledged the four still missing: Rewai Karetai
(47), Paul Fowler-Karetai (40), David George Fowler (50) and
Odin Karetai (7).
"In the midst of today's rituals they are not forgotten," she
All those involved in the search for Easy Rider's nine
passengers were thanked, including members of the police
force, navy, airforce, dive squads, fishing crews and
Mention was also made of a trust fund being established to
help with the search for those not yet found, as well as
All four deceased were remembered with kind words and family
stories which drew laughter from the sombre crowd.
As they had been carried into the stadium to powerful haka
chanting, so too were they taken to their final resting
Mr Karetai, Mr Pekamu-Bloxham and Mr Topi were cremated and
Mr Pikia-Gillies was buried at the Riverton Cemetery.