Kiwi MH17 victim Mary Menke identified

TALIA SHADWELL AND MYLES HUME
Last updated 13:13 15/08/2014
Gerry and Mary Menke
Supplied
MISSED: Gerry and Mary Menke.

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The family of Mary Menke - who was killed alongside her husband on the doomed flight MH17 - is "relieved" she will return home after being formally identified.

Menke's Victoria-based family confirmed through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade today that Menke, 65, and her Dutch husband Gerry, 70, had been identified by authorities after the Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

All 298 on board died in the crash.

The Menkes had lived in Mallacoota, about 500 kilometres east of Melbourne.

“We are relieved that Mary and Gerry Menke have been identified and wish to thank all those who have helped in this process," the Menke family said.

"We look forward to receiving Mary and Gerry again soon in the place and the community they loved so much and which loved them. Once again we extend our deepest condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.”

On July 17, the Menkes were returning home to Mallacoota after celebrating Gerry's 70th birthday in France when the plane was shot down.

Mary Menke, whose maiden name was Bignell, grew up in View Hill, near Oxford in Canterbury, where her mother, Betty, was a teacher and father, Bill, the principal at the local school. 

Bill, 91, still lives in Oxford, while Betty died 18 months ago

She attended Timaru Girls' High School between 1962 and 1965, before going on to train as a dental nurse.

She moved to Australia in her 20s for a working holiday, and went on to marry Gerry Menke, who lived in the small fishing village, in 1972.

They had four children, Sara, Brett, Anna and Paul. They have five grandsons.

The family has previously said the couple were "inseparable".

The body of MH17's only victim who was a New Zealand resident - Otaki dog breeder Rob Ayley - has also been identified, his Wellington-based parents Jonn and Wendie Ayley, said yesterday.

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