Beloved brother mourned
Nigel Stephens will treasure the last hour he spent with his brother.
By the Wanganui River, on the West Coast, Stephens quietly said goodbye to the brother he cherished as he waited for a helicopter to arrive.
Corey Stephens, 35, who grew up in Southland, was found by his best friend Paul Clinton, of Gore, and Nigel on Saturday after going missing more than a week ago.
The deeply religious man, loving father and caring son had been on a week-long solo hunting trip when he disappeared.
Police and volunteers combed the area but the search was scaled back last week. Nigel, his father Alastair and Clinton continued the search on Friday.
His body was found on the riverbed near Hari Hari, near where his belongings had been found earlier in the week.
The situation was heartbreaking for the family but a relief to be able to bring closure, Nigel said.
Corey is survived by his wife and daughter.
"What we would like the people of Southland and the rest of the country to know is that Corey was a very proud and loving husband to his wife Elle and the proudest, proudest father to his 8-month-old Koriniti. He was always my big brother and he always looked out for me. Corey was really loved."
But it wasn't just his family Corey looked after, he also inspired the youth in his community. Heavily involved in several churches, he and his wife were youth leaders and he was no stranger to helping youngsters.
The family was now preparing for his funeral.
"A very very deep and heartfelt thank you to all the volunteers and the police and rescuers that put time and effort in to help look for my brother."
It was not just those who searched the bush for Corey but people who dropped off casseroles, offered free accommodation and had rallied around the family, Nigel said.
The Southland Times