Principal laments death of 'energetic, enthusiastic and great kid'

Rowan Cai Parker
Rowan Cai Parker
A ''tiki tour'' around a Chaslands farm on Wednesday evening ended in tragedy for a ''great kid'', who was recently named head boy of the Catlins Area School, the principal says.

Balclutha police yesterday named the dead teenager as Rowan Cai Parker (16).

The Owaka teen, who was on a quad bike at a friend's farm with two friends on motorbikes, set off to ride between Marks Bay and Wallace Bay in the Chaslands.

The trio were riding along a track above the coast when Rowan, who was at the rear, lost control of his quad bike and plunged 150m on to rocks below.

Catlins Area School principal Alex MacCreadie told the Otago Daily Times

Rowan was named head boy of the 180-pupil school at its prizegiving ceremony last month.

''He was thrilled. He was very much looking forward to it.''

Rowan excelled at sports, particularly rugby and cricket. He was involved in kapa haka and ''his other big passion was acting and he was lead in our school production''.

''He was the `Man of Steel' ... He played Superman.''

Mr MacCreadie said the close-knit Catlins community was devastated by his death.

''Everyone is shell-shocked.''

Rowan was with the school's former head boy and head girl at the time of the accident, and the pair were ''absolutely devastated''.

''It was just a tiki tour around the farm. They were out for a fun day.

''They had spent time and talked about things. They had all ridden motorbikes before.''

He had visited the family, who were ''devastated and in shock''.

''They were immensely proud of him.

''He was an energetic, enthusiastic and great kid, and basically looking forward to having a great year and carrying on with it.

''I had a marvellous young man who was just starting to stride out and do some wonderful things ... and now I don't.''

His funeral will be held on Monday.

Senior Sergeant Richard Whitmore, of Balclutha, said police had yet to clarify the circumstances with the male and female witnesses, who were distressed as a result of the accident.

Alcohol was not a factor, he said.

Emergency services, including the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter, were called to the area just after 7pm on Wednesday.

Paramedic Gavin Westall said the area was remote and rugged.

The death has been referred to the coroner.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz