Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Police recover bodies of missing climbers

Police have recovered the bodies of two men who tragically died while climbing Taranaki Maunga on Tuesday night.

The formal identification process is still underway to confirm the men’s identities, however Police believe them to be missing men Peter Kirkwood and Richard Phillips.

Peter Kirkwood.

“Police are liaising with the families of both Mr Kirkwood and Mr Phillips at this tragic time,” NZ Police said in a statement.

“We would like to reiterate our thanks to Taranaki Rescue Helicopter and Taranaki Alpine Cliff Rescue staff who assisted Police throughout this operation.”

Richard Phillips.

Richard Anthony Phillips, 46, was a man dedicated to his family – his partner Jacqueline and their teenage daughters Freya and Indy, his family said in a statement this afternoon.

“He met Jac while travelling in Nepal in 1997. Together with their daughters, they made the move from the UK to New Zealand in 2008, and they have brought their girls up to share their love of the outdoors.”

“Rich was happiest in the hills with his family and his beloved dog Betsy. He was an experienced climber, hiker, mountain biker and diver who had travelled widely before settling in New Zealand. He was the sort of person who could turn his hand to anything, including having a hands-on role in building the family’s home on the Port Hills in Christchurch.

“He was a loyal and loving friend who would never fail to go the extra mile for anyone. He earned the respect and admiration of those he met at home, at work, on his travels and even on the sidelines of his girls’ sporting events.

“An engineering geologist, Rich joined Tonkin & Taylor in 2008. His colleagues will remember him for his technical expertise, his willingness to help, and his positive outlook on life.

“He was the rock of his family and they are devastated by his loss, as are his parents Roy and Valerie, and his brother Stewart. His family appreciate all the support they are receiving as they come to terms with the loss of their most incredible father, partner, son, brother, and friend.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations are made to Taranaki Alpine Cliff Rescue or the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust, who worked tirelessly to bring Rich home to his family.

In a statement, the family of Dr Peter Kirkwood, 33, said the Welsh-born doctor was the son of Paul and Katrina, and brother to Beth, Matthew, and Edith

“He met his wife-to-be, Kerrie Ann, in the University of Cambridge Hillwalking Club, while completing a PhD in geotechnical engineering. After graduation, they spent time working, skiing, and climbing based out of Boulder, Colorado, before moving to New Zealand in 2018,” the family said.

“The mountains were central to Peter’s life. He was a skilled and experienced tramper, mountaineer and backcountry skier, who had climbed numerous peaks in the European Alps, the Scottish Highlands, the North American Rockies, and the New Zealand Southern Alps.”

They say Peter had recently become a father, and was looking forward to introducing his baby daughter, Elaine Sierra, to the mountains that he and Kerrie Ann loved so much.

“A competent, careful engineer, who tackled complex geotechnical problems with relish, Peter was held in high esteem by his colleagues at Tonkin & Taylor,” the family said.

“He was a loyal and adventurous soul, who will be dearly missed by his friends in the UK, the US, and in Christchurch, where he and Kerrie Ann had made their home.

“Peter’s loss leaves a huge hole in the lives of his family and friends. We respectfully request privacy at this difficult time.”

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