Tributes are flowing for volunteer firefighter Craig Stevens, who died on Thursday night after being seriously injured in a landslide in Auckland’s Muriwai amid Cyclone Gabrielle.
Early on Tuesday morning, Stevens was rescued from a property in Muriwai that had collapsed from a landslip and was taken to hospital in critical condition.
He and his colleague Dave van Zwanenberg were checking a flooded property on Motutara Rd when a slip trapped them inside.
Van Zwanenberg’s body was found on Wednesday.
He was honoured on Thursday by half-mast flags flying at fire stations nationwide.
Kerry Gregory, Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s chief executive, said the wider FENZ community is “still coming to terms with the news” they have now lost a second firefighter following Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Craig and Dave died helping others, working with their team-mates for the benefit of their community,” Gregory said in a statement.
“As we mourn them both, we will think of them with pride. E te ika huirua, moe mai rā (may our two heroes rest in peace).”
He added Stevens’ family has requested privacy.
Stevens was an avid freestyle BMX rider and a friend who had known him for more than 20 years, Matt Coplon, the BMX community is heartbroken “for his wife Lucy, and their two sons and the rest of his family as well as his friends across the globe”.
“He’s an easily likeable person, a great storyteller, an amazing bike rider,” said Coplon.
On a Facebook post by Profile Racing, one commenter said he was “proud to live in the same city as a hero” like Stevens.
Woodhill Mountain Bike Park also posted to Facebook, describing Stevens as “an amazing rider. A legend lost far too soon”.
A spokesperson from the NZ Professional Firefighters Union said the FENZ and Muriwai communities will be “facing the future without two of their crew, their mates, their extended family”.
Stevens grew up in South Africa and the UK but came to Aotearoa New Zealand with his wife Lucy on a working holiday, and decided to stay.
Muriwai was slammed by Cyclone Gabrielle on Monday night, as more than 200 people were evacuated from the area due to several slips and flooding.
Teen who convinced friend to let him to rape infant relative indicted
‘Always been a Warrior’: Coaches wowed, as Johnson winds back clock
Act’s David Seymour promises to ‘dial up the brew’