Family comforted dad died doing what he loved

Robert John Martin (second left) with his family (from left), James, Sheena-Jayne, Anna and Scott...
Robert John Martin (second left) with his family (from left), James, Sheena-Jayne, Anna and Scott Martin last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/SHEENA-JAYNE MARTIN
For Robert John Martin, home was in the sky.

The 72-year-old Christchurch man was killed when his glider crashed near Omarama on Monday and his daughter, Sheena-Jayne, said the family was taking some comfort knowing he died doing what he loved.

Miss Martin said her father lived life to the fullest and gliding had been one of his passions for more than 20 years.

He flew in the Omarama area often and nothing could keep him out of the sky — not even when he broke his back in a crash nearly 10 years ago.

"He just loved it. He would fly thousands of kilometres all up the South Island and take photos out the window — just him and his glider," Miss Martin said.

"He just loved that free feeling of flying."

Flying also translated through his job as an artist.

He worked in graphic design, book illustrations, and as a painter, and at the time of his death was creating a series about the extinct Haast eagle.

Once it was completed Mr Martin had planned an exhibition, and Miss Martin said after a celebration of her father’s life was held, she planned to hold the exhibition in his honour. "[He’s] just one of the most incredible artists."

Miss Martin joked her father was "72 going on 32".

He loved windsurfing, hang-gliding, skiing and fishing, and even tramped into Dingleburn earlier this year for the start of the fishing season.

Last year he competed in a masters ski race.

"That’s why I called Dad Peter Pan. He just didn’t stop. He was just always living life to the fullest, that was just who he was."

Growing up in Essex, Mr Martin went to art school in London before taking off to see the world.

He travelled to Australia and New Zealand, met his future wife, Anna, in his early 30s, and they had three children, Sheena-Jayne (33), James (30) and Scott (26).

The family lived in Christchurch before moving to Gore where Mr Martin ran an art gallery, ArtSouth.

He later moved to Queenstown, working in Ivan Clarke Gallery and was heavily involved in the art community.

Once the family had celebrated his life, Miss Martin said they hoped to have a memorial service for her father in Omarama.

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

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