Shock after Grey Valley farmer dies from crash injuries

Phil McLennan sorting blueberries on his Ikamatua farm. Photo: Greymouth Star
Phil McLennan sorting blueberries on his Ikamatua farm. Photo: Greymouth Star
West Coast residents are reeling with the death of blueberry farm pioneer Phil McLennan who succumbed to his injuries after a motor accident on the outskirts of Ikamatua on Monday.

Mr McLennan, a well known horticulturist and farmer in the Grey Valley, died in hospital from injuries sustained when his four-wheel farm bike and a car collided near the Waiuta turn-off at Ikamatua, on State Highway 7.

He was the pioneer of blueberry farming on the West Coast and was a well known and liked identity of the Grey Valley community.

Mr McLennan farmed blueberries and tayberries on his Ikamatua farm for many years and was a major supplier of blueberries to supermarket chains, ice-cream and food companies throughout New Zealand, in addition to a roadside stall at the farm.

His sudden death has put the Grey Valley in shock.

"It's hit the community hard," Ikamatua resident Roger Hampton said.

"He was a long serving member of the local fire brigade and has been in the Grey Valley Lions for many years. Phil was a real character and very popular. His death is a real shock, right on Christmas."

Ikamatua Hotel publican George McInroe said the community was hurting.

"We are all devastated. Phil was a prominent member of the community and a real entrepreneur," Mr McInroe said.

"We are all feeling it up here. He was a major character of the community and a community-minded man. It's a shock."

Retired Ikamatua farmer Peter O'Malley was still coming to terms with the loss.

"Any accident is a shock but it's hit close to home," Mr O'Malley said.

"Phil was well liked and fully involved in our community -- Grey Valley Lions, the fire brigade and the rugby club. Everyone knew him, he was always the first to put his hand up if anything needed doing. It's a very sad time."

The police serious crash team is still investigating the circumstances of the crash.

 - Paul McBride