Upper Hutt gives a thunderous farewell to rural firefighter Greg Mauchline
The rain poured and thunder boomed as Greg Mauchline was taken on his final ride with his fellow firefighters.
The Upper Hutt rural firefighter, who died suddenly just after Christmas, aged only 43, was taken on one final ride in the force's yellow fire truck through Upper Hutt's streets to his beloved Wellington Family Speedway park at Te Marua, where he was met by more than 100 people for a farewell service on Wednesday.
Fellow firefighters stood at attention as pallbearers, led by dad Stu Mauchline, brought him past some of his production saloons.
"We knew him for his smile," Wellington Speedway president Chris Hadley said.
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"As you can tell, he had heaps of friends, that's why there's so many of us here today."
Mauchline, who died from a medical event on December 27, leaves a son.
He was known for his love of Holdens, and his racing moniker Rebel. One of his favourites was a V8 Kingswood. "It was always backfiring," Hadley laughed.
Described as a "challenged" driver, who would run his cars on the smell of an oily rag, he'd sometimes be at the front, Hadley said.
When he wasn't racing, the "good club man" volunteered for the speedway's fire crew and working bees.
He would always be the first to offer one of his cars as the speedway's entry for the local Christmas parade.
Days before his death on December 27, he sorted out the speedway's water shortage with fellow firefighters and tanker-loads of water.
"He was one of the most down to earth blokes you could ever meet. He's your good Kiwi bloke."
Volunteering and firefighting is a Mauchline family tradition, so it was only fitting that he joined the same force his parents did. Joining in 2004, he was recently promoted to senior firefighter.
The force's Facebook page was flooded with condolences when news of his death was broken on December 28.
"Greg was looked at by a lot of the younger crew members too, as an older brother," rural fire controller Stephen Phillips said.
"You knew at a fire he'd get the job done, there was no fanfare or bulls..t."
When the Port Hills fire raged over 2000 hectares early last year in Christchurch, he played a key role as part of an Upper Hutt crew sent south on a 10-day tour.
"It leaves a hole in terms of what Greg could provide us. I mean nobody can ever replace him, but he leaves a hole where only he can fill," Phillips said.
"He touched so many hearts, did so many things – you look somewhere or go to pick up a piece of equipment, and straight away you think of him."