Son celebrates dad at distance

18:37, Dec 26 2013
David Macdonald
Rest in peace: Derek Macdonald, second to right, celebrates the life of his father Mugwi Macdonald in a Scottish pub with friends when he was unable to get to his funeral at the Wairau Pa in Marlborough on Monday.

A Blenheim man living in Scotland is heartbroken after heavy holiday air bookings prevented him from attending his father's funeral.

Derek Macdonald, who works on an oil rig off the coast of Scotland, celebrated the life of his father Mugwi Macdonald in a hotel with friends in Scotland while the funeral was held at Wairau Pa, near Blenheim, on the other side of the world.

Mr Macdonald said telling his mother to go ahead with the funeral on Monday, before he could get back to New Zealand, had been the hardest decision he's made.

Mugwi MacDonald
Mugwi Macdonald

His father died early on Friday morning, but the first available flight would have touched down in New Zealand on Boxing Day, too long to expect people to wait, he said. "Because it was such a big funeral, which took a lot of organising, there were other people to think about.

"Underneath I was raging and my heart was going into meltdown," he said on his Facebook invitation to friends to put on a suit and black tie to join him at a hotel in Cullen to help celebrate his father's life.

Mr Macdonald's family in Marlborough offered to create a Skype link to the funeral so he could watch online. "It would have been just me in a room by myself and I would have broken down," he said.


"I found strength in organising to be with my friends."

One comfort was getting to spend a month in November helping look after his father during his illness.

His employers organised a helicopter to fly him to shore after his father died.

"Dad always said, ‘Be tough, be tough' but it was hard," he said.

Mr Macdonald, who is a chef on a BP oil rig, has lived in Scotland since 1985.

However, he is determined to return home for the unveiling of his father's headstone in about a year.

Former Maori All Black, professional league player and talented golfer Haua Detoma (Mugwi) Macdonald died at Wairau Hospital on Friday morning surrounded by family members. He was a founding member of the Maori-owned Wakatu Incorporation.

The Marlborough Express