As the body of a hunter shot dead by his friend was removed from bush near Rotorua today family friends said they held no animosity towards the man who pulled the trigger.
James "Dodzy" Dodds, who has been described as a "careful hunter" and an inspiration, was killed yesterday morning while hunting near Te Kopia Rd, in the Waikite Valley.
His friend told police that he had accidentally shot him.
Police located his body in dense bush yesterday but were unable to remove it. They stayed with the body overnight before a helicopter was able to winch it out of the area at 8.15 this morning.
Dodds' friends Gary Sullivan and Jeff Carter issued a statement this afternoon.
"This is a terrible shock and impact is still sinking in. The two families involved in this tragedy both know each other well and are supporting one another. There is no animosity held.
"We will all get through this together with the support of family and close friends.
"Both men are well liked and well respected in the mountain biking and outdoor community both locally and internationally.
"Dodzy's partner Gabby (Gabrielle) has said her Facebook comments express how she feels. That is her statement and her tribute.
"His family are still travelling to New Zealand from overseas and we ask that everyone be given space at this very difficult time."
Dodds' body was flown to Rotorua Hospital and would be transported to Auckland later today where an autopsy would be carried out.
"This case is an absolute tragedy and all of the families involved are suffering a most awful grief," Rotorua area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said.
"However this case is also a harsh reminder of the critical importance of hunters ensuring they positively identify their target beyond any doubt before they shoot."
Wellington man Leslie Molloy told The Dominion Post he went to be with his devastated daughter - Gabrielle Molloy - after police called to say her partner James Dodds had been shot.
The couple are well-known mountainbikers, who take skills clinics throughout New Zealand.
Molloy left a poignant message on her Facebook page yesterday.
"Today the love of my life James "Dodzy" Dodds lost his life in a tragic accident. He was the most inspiring, loving, caring, clever human being I have ever met and I am so privileged to have spent nearly nine wonderful years with him. I will miss him with my entire being. I love you Dodzy, so so much baby. Your Gabs."
Molloy knew little about the circumstances of the hunting accident yesterday, but said there had been "too many of them" happening lately. "He was just a fabulous guy and such a careful hunter."
Dodds is understood to have designed and produced mountainbikes with the company he directs, NZ Trail Solutions, in partnership with Rotorua's Zerode Bikes.
His hunting companion, who like Dodds, was in his 30s, reported on his cellphone that he had accidentally shot his friend about 8am, Rotorua police area commander Bruce Horne said. The shooter, who was a licensed gun holder, had spent some time getting cellphone coverage.
It then took hours for police to find Mr Dodds' body in a remote location in thick bush, but they found him late yesterday afternoon. However, the nature of the terrain and wet weather meant a police search and rescue volunteer team would camp overnight in the bush.
They hoped to remove Dodds' body early today.
Although the investigation was in its early stages, Horne said it appeared the shooting was accidental. "[It is] another tragic reminder of the absolute necessity for hunters to properly identify their target before they shoot."
The shooter was very distressed and was helping police with the investigation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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