Island tour

Memorial Service for White Island Tour Guide Hayden Marshall-Inman

Focus: The faces of people confirmed to have died during or after the Whakaari / White Island eruption. Video / Katee Shanks

Hundreds of people flocked to Whakatāne Baptist Church to celebrate the life of White Island tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman.

The crowd was encouraged to don the jerseys of their favorite sports teams. Many wore All Blacks and Chiefs jerseys as well as bright yellow surf club shirts.

The guide’s brother, Mark Inman, revealed he was known as funcle – the fun uncle.

“A moment in time took my brother,” he told the crowd, his voice shaking with emotion.

• White Island eruption: Sydney teenager risks finding his entire immediate family dead
• White Island tragedy: a mother and daughter die in a bitter blow of fate
• Whakaari / White Island: Whakatāne Hospital staff take stress-related leave
• Teenage tragedy: White Island victim’s legacy ‘will never fade’

White <a class=Island tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman’s brother Mark at his funeral. Photo / Ben Fraser” class=”article-media__image responsively-lazy” data-test-ui=”article-media__image”/>
White Island tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman’s brother Mark at his funeral. Photo / Ben Fraser

He personally greeted nearly everyone who came through the front gates, including Mark Law and his crew of Kahu Helicopters who assisted in rescue efforts after the Dec. 9 eruption.

He paid tribute to helicopter pilots, calling them first responders who saved lives.

He also paid tribute to the family of Tipene Maangi – another deceased White Island Tours guide – and said Te Whānau-ā-Apanui iwi will always be in the hearts of the families.

Inman’s moving speech also touched on his brother’s love for his nieces and nephews, as well as the Chiefs and All Blacks.

He said his brother was now the caretaker of Whakaari and would be the last man to leave the island.

Inman’s daughter talked about the favorite uncle and all the adventures they had. Through tears, she said her uncle wasn’t afraid of anything

She called him “superman”.

Marshall-Inman’s mother said she would miss her son’s text messages saying “I love you” and seeing him walk down her driveway.

She said wherever her son was, that was where he was supposed to be.

A eulogy was also read on behalf of Inman’s “American” family – he worked at American summer camps every year.

Music played throughout the church as pictures of him played on the screen.

Hayden Marshall-Inman died when White Island erupted on December 9.
Hayden Marshall-Inman died when White Island erupted on December 9.

The congregation was told that he always used to record his travels to White Island. The Monday of his death would have been his 1111th trip. The numbers had become significant and at 11:11 a.m. there was a minute of silence.

There was standing room only in the main part of the church while additional seating in a second hall quickly filled.

The body of the 40-year-old man has not been found since the eruption on the island on December 9 which killed 16 people.

Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement said this week he was satisfied his body, along with that of 17-year-old Australian tourist Winona Langford, had been washed off the island and out to sea in a downpour .

Mourners arrive for the service in sports shirts - a family request.
Mourners arrive for the service in sports shirts – a family request.

Clement said a body, believed to be Marshall-Inman, was seen in the water near the pier on December 11, but the police boat Deodar was unable to get close enough to retrieve it. Subsequent searches in the expanded area were unsuccessful.

Research has been reduced from a national to a regional operation, although resources are still available as needed.

But Mark Inman said it wouldn’t change anything for the family.

He said this week: We are always positive and always hopeful. You must stay like this.

“There are still two bodies there, one being my brother and the other being Winona.

“As long as there are still people watching, it makes a difference.”

Whether the two would be recovered was “in Tangaroa’s hands”.

“We will leave it to him to decide.

The police were also present.  Photo / Ben Fraser
The police were also present. Photo / Ben Fraser

Inman’s feelings hadn’t changed about the early efforts to rescue everyone trapped on the island when it erupted, even though his brother had yet to return.

“I guess it was just those final minutes of the initial response that may or may not have made a difference. But you also have to remember that the authorities have systems in place to protect others.

“You have to trust the process. Whether you agree or not, you have to trust the process.”

He said communication with the police had been good since Clement arrived on board, and he was confident that would continue when the operation was carried out from the Bay of Plenty.

“The local boys are magical. They will definitely take care of us.”

Asked about Clement’s comment that the police did not discourage private aerial searches, Inman said that was normal after an event like this.

“We would ride every day if we could.”

He said he had wanted to join the search from day one – not just for his brother but for everyone who initially stayed on the island.

“It’s about getting all eight bodies home. That’s the feeling of the whole community. We saw that come to life with the helicopter pilots and the crew of White Island.”

The family had been touched by the support from the Whakatāne community and beyond.

“We are eternally grateful for all the effort.”