Former Queenstown man on MH17

HONEYMOON TRAGEDY: Former Queenstown man Benoit Chardome, pictured with his partner, was on his honeymoon when he boarded MH17.
HONEYMOON TRAGEDY: Former Queenstown man Benoit Chardome, pictured with his partner, was on his honeymoon when he boarded MH17.

A former Queenstown man killed on MH17 is believed to have been in the middle of his honeymoon when he died, while a Dutch-Kiwi whose aunt and uncle also died said the Netherlands is in a state of shock 

Restaurateur Benoit Chardome who lived in Queenstown before moving to Bali, was among the passengers on the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight.

Chardome was originally from Belgium, but spent several years in Queenstown working in the hospitality industry, where he owned the Bathhouse and Pasta Pasta Cucina restaurants.

Benoit Chardome
Benoit Chardome

He moved to Bali about six years ago.

Former business partner Franck Sivignon said Chardome was in the middle of his honeymoon when he boarded MH17.

His husband had not been on the flight, as Chardome was heading off for urgent business and planned to return to the honeymoon afterwards, Sivignon said.

Sivignon worked with Chardome in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the pair opened a short-lived Belgian brasserie together in Queenstown.

He remembered Chardome as a man who was always there for his mates.

‘‘He would give you the clothes off his back. He was a real friend - he was a genuine friend.’’

Although the former business partners lived miles apart, they still made an effort to keep in touch, the last chat being about a month ago, Sivignon said.

Others who knew Chardome in Queenstown talked about the Belgian’s good nature.

Hamills Restaurant owner Tony Robertson, who knew Chardome through the hospitality industry, said he was a bright and bubbly host.

‘‘He would always look on the bright side of life, always had good words to say about everyone.’’

Known around town as ‘‘Bathhouse Ben’’, Chardome had mentored a lot of staff now working in Queenstown, giving them their first jobs in the industry, Robertson said.

He understood Chardome was working on a community development programme for disadvantaged youths in Bali.

There were 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine last week.


A Dutch-Kiwi whose aunt and uncle died on MH17, said the Netherlands is in a state of shock since the plane was shot down on Friday morning.

Huub Kerckhoffs a horticultural production lecturer at Massey University in Palmerston North, moved to New Zealand from Holland ten years ago. 

His mother’s sister, Toos Ruyter and her husband, Guust Moors, were passengers on MH17 travelling to see their son in Kuala Lumpur. 

On Friday morning he got a call at 6am from the Netherlands.

“It was my mum, she was crying, I realised fairly quick. Her sister and her husband were on the plane,” he said.

The attack on the Malaysia Airlines flight killed 193 Dutch and has touched the entire country, he said.

“The whole country is in shock. Every community is affected. Everyone knows somebody. The whole country is in mourning,” Kerckhoffs said.

His family are from the small town of Middenmeer in northern Holland, and the death of his aunt and uncle is being felt strongly by the village.

“Everyone knows them. I was talking to another uncle. You drive past the house and there are no lights. You can really feel the loss,” he said.

As revelations of looting and interference investigation have emerged, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has put significant pressure on Russian President, Vladimir Putin to ensure the Ukrainian rebels do not prevent access.

But the people of Holland are still trying to process the loss. 

“That big anger is still not here, people are still in shock. The whole country is trying to make sense of it. The scars are on every community,” Kreckhoffs said.

And while we can feel disconnected and safe from the violence of other parts of the world, this shows how connected we really are, said Kreckhoffs.

“It is a messed up world we are living in, but we are lucky living here, but it just shows how small the world really is,” he said.

Fairfax Media