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Duayne Insley, known to his friends as Dweeb, died during the World Championship Jet boat Marathon on the Waimakariri River in Canterbury on Sunday morning.
Wife Deana, in a statement, absolved driver Dwayne Terry of any blame saying it was ''an accident in the true meaning of the word''.
She paid tribute to her late husband.
''He gave my life meaning and absolute happiness,'' Mrs Insley said.
''We worked, lived and travelled together, but he never stopped my independence either.
''I will miss him every minute of every day for the rest of my life. I will remember Duayne for his strong will, his determination to get things done and his no-nonsense attitude.''
''Duayne's loyalty to the people and community that he loved was impeccable. He has risked life and limb for many others and has touched many hearts.''
He is also survived by daughter Evee, step-children Casey and James, his sister Michelle, his brother Zane and his father Noel.
Mrs Insley said he lived for the outdoors, hunting and camping.
''Some of his closest friends were his boat driver, Dwayne Terry, Gilly and Justin (aka Scottish) and his mate Ted. They all shared the same interest so no surprise that two for them were there for the last ride.''
She said Mr Insley understood the risks of motorsport.
''We all understood that this sport is a high risk sport. There is no blame attached. Dwayne Terry is a faultless driver.
''This is an accident in the true meaning of the word. It was unpredicted, and unforeseen. My heart goes out to him and his family.''
Mr Insley was born in Taihape in 1970. He grew up throughout central North Island and moved to Glenorchy at aged 24 to take up a job as a shepherd on Greenstone Routeburn Station.
His jobs in Glenorchy included bar man, bus driver (both school and tourism), commercial jet boat driver for Dart Safaris, digger driving for Donerite, and finally as owner/operator of High Country Horses with his wife Deana.
He had 15 years' experience with jetboats, the pinnacle was with Dwayne Terry in the FX class. They won the world championship in this class in 2013, have twice been NZ champions in the FX class, and have won races on every main river where races are held in the South Island.
Mrs Insley said she has received hundreds of messages of support and was touched by them. She also thanked crew mechanic Russell Woodall for supporting everyone.
A celebration of Mr Insley's life will be at Paradise Trust in Glenorchy on Sunday at 1pm.