By Jeniffer Larson
Kaitaia Area Office Ranger, William Macrae, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash last November, has been awarded the Far North’s first posthumous Citizen’s Award.
William and John ‘Prickles’ De Ridder (the helicopter pilot), lost their lives on November 30 2011, when the helicopter they were in crashed into the sea just off the Karikari coastline in Northland. Both men had been involved in fighting a wildfire and had been diverted to try to rescue people who had fled into the ocean to escape the flames.
The courageous actions of the men were honoured at a special ceremony at the Far North District Council office. Far North Mayor, Wayne Brown, acknowledged the enormous contributions both men had made to their communities.
Mayor Brown talked about the role both men had played in serving their communities over several years as fire fighters, “ultimately sacrificing their lives.”
William’s widow, Jenny Larson (who is the Office Support Ranger in Kaitaia), received the award on William’s behalf. Jenny was supported by family, friends and a good contingent of local DOC staff.
In a heartfelt speech, Jenny expressed her gratitude and appreciation to all those who had supported her and the rest of the family in the months following William’s death. She said that since the accident that claimed William and Prickles’ lives, “our families have been helped, supported and loved by a countless number of individuals.”
William was considered one of DOC’s most experienced fire fighters. He had been called upon to act in a variety of roles, including front line fire fighting, and as a member of the CIMS team. His death was a harsh reminder to his colleagues of the dangers that sometimes comes with the territory of working for DOC. Certainly, each of us thinks hard before engaging in fire fighting or getting into a helicopter since the accident.
William was a great colleague, with a passion for his work and for our community. His last project was overseeing the upgrades and construction of a multi-day walk in Te Paki. William’s work on the track is continued through his brother, Alan Macrae (Kaitaia’s Historic Ranger) who has taken over the project, and William’s son Samuel, who is working with the building contractors. Plans are underway to incorporate a memorial for William into the track, once completed.
Once again Jenny and her family wish to send thanks to all that have helped and are still helping in so many ways.
Na te whanau nei e mihi aroha kia koutou ma. I to koutou nei awhina, manaaki, aroha ranei. E kau nei matou te Whanau e warewaretia.
Noreira, na te atua e tiaki, e manaaki hoki.