Hundreds gathered in Muriwai today to pay tribute to Dave van Zwanenberg, a volunteer firefighter who lost his life while responding to a call-out during Cyclone Gabrielle last week.
The 42-year-old was a volunteer member of the Muriwai Fire Brigade. He and Craig Stevens were caught in a landslide as they tried to save a property from flooding last week.
In emotional scenes today, van Zwanenberg was remembered as a man who lived life to the fullest.
His best friend Tom Brownlie described him as “dependable, kind, capable, adventurous, brave and extraordinary”.
Brownlie said van Zwanenberg showed everyone what selflessness looked like when he drove out into a cyclone to help his friend.
“An extraordinary friend that drove into a cyclone in a dark night with his brigade to help his friends,” he said.
Mourners remembered the firefighter for having a jam-packed life with skills in piloting, kitesurfing, and hunting.
His wife Amy van Zwanenberg said he had gone towards trouble to help people time and time again.
She said he parented with “such a blend of head and heart” and was an “incredible husband”.
The funeral service was attended by fire officers from across the region, who formed a guard of honour as van Zwanenberg’s coffin was carried on a vintage fire engine.
An officer from Muriwai Fire Brigade Phelan Perrie said van Zwanenberg would be sorely missed by the brigade.
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