Friends and family say last farewell to 'Sword'
Timaru, Temuka and Geraldine Motorcycle Touring Club (TTAG) members have given respected member David Niles a send-off to remember.
Niles, 61, was killed instantly when the tree he was cutting fell on him on Saturday.
About 150 family, friends, TTAG riders and associates gathered at his home on the outskirts of Temuka to escort Niles, better known as "Sword", to the Alpine Energy Stadium, where the funeral took place.
Dressed in leathers, riders made their way to the stadium on their bikes, while Niles' body was transported in a Ford F100, driven by friend Eruera Sutherland.
Long-time friend Colin Andrews, of Blenheim, said he was struggling to comprehend his mate was gone.
"He was invincible. No-one would have thought he would die," he said.
An original member of TTAG, Niles was felling trees last weekend in Temuka to gather firewood for a bike rally in November. It was a chore Niles and club members had been doing on a regular basis for years.
"He was experienced and had done a lot of it over the years," Andrews said.
According to witnesses, the tree Niles was working on unexpectedly "slipped off its stump", crushing him.
TTAG rider Malcolm Penty said everyone was stunned.
"We've been cutting trees down for firewood for the past 20 years. We all have Stihl chainsaws and watch out for each other - so, yeah, it's pretty devastating."
A memorial rally in Temuka is being planned for next year to pay tribute to Niles.
The tree that killed him will be saved and burned at the event. Niles was a former president of the club and go-to man if something needed to be done.
"If anything needed doing, Sword would just get in and do it - that's the kind of guy he was," Andrews said.
The Timaru Herald