Remembering Philomen

By Joanne Carroll

Philomen Gulland loved her job in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Philomen Gulland loved her job in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

The brother of Watercare worker Philomen Gulland has spoken of the family's grief over the death of his "baby sister".

Canadian Gulland, 48, died in a gas explosion while she was inspecting a tunnel in Onehunga last Saturday.

Her brother Bernie Penner, speaking to the Herald on Sunday from Canada, said the rest of the family had travelled to New Zealand for Philomen's private memorial service this weekend.

Bernie had stayed behind to look after their elderly father Bernard.

"My mother is going to do a blessing at the site but my father is too shaken to travel, so I'm looking after him," he said.

Philomen's ashes would be returned to Canada.

The family had been to visit her in New Zealand.

"She visited us regularly but she really loved it in New Zealand. She had a great life there and had lots of friends and loved her job," he said.

Philomen regularly competed as a team member in the 100km Oxfam trailwalk around Lake Taupo.

The family had asked mourners for donations to Oxfam instead of flowers.

Her teenage children - Emma and Cameron - and their father Jonathan Gulland were being supported by extended family.

They moved to New Zealand from Canada six years ago.

Jonathan said the family had been kept busy during the week organising the funeral and service and were not yet ready to speak publicly about Philomen.

In a funeral notice, her friends and colleagues said her professionalism, positivity, generosity and laughter had enriched their lives.

Colleague Ian Winson, a network engineer for Watercare, who lost both his legs in the explosion, remains in a serious but stable condition in Auckland City Hospital.

Harry Barnett, a supervisor for Watercare, Mathew Jamieson, a drainlayer for HEB Construction, and three other workers were injured in the blast but have been discharged from hospital.

- Herald on Sunday

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