Today will be a day of celebration for the Whakaruru family.
They will celebrate a wedding anniversary, two birthdays as well as the life of an "extraordinary" man.
Pue Barry Whakaruru, who died while taking part in Saturday's Ironmaori event in Waitara, will be farewelled at a service held at Normanby's Kanihi Pa this afternoon.
Niece Tamzyn Pue said the 73-year-old was an "amazing and awesome" person who will be missed by all who knew him.
She said although the Hawera man had experienced health problems over the years, he was determined to take part in Saturday's race, after he watched from the sidelines last year.
Ms Pue said there had been nothing on the day that suggested Mr Whakaruru should not have taken part.
"His spirits were high, he was full of beans," Ms Pue said.
She said when he was taken to hospital during the final leg, she made sure he officially finished the race. She tied his timing transponder to her leg and crossed the finish line along with a number of other supporters.
Born in Normanby, Mr Whakaruru and wife Maisey lived mainly in Waikato and Taranaki, where he worked for many years in the health and education fields, most recently at Tui Ora as a mental health worker.
Ms Pue said he was a highly regarded in both North and South Taranaki and had strong affiliations with many of the iwi in the region.
She said Mr Whakaruru's family did not want people to be discouraged from taking part in next year's Ironmaori. "As a family, we are doing the Ironmaori next year as a tribute to him."
Mr Whakaruru is survived by his wife of 54 years Maisey, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
- Taranaki Daily News
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