Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Man killed by wasps helped save his nephew

Morris Stretch and his nephew Craig Wilson were collecting firewood when the swarm attacked. Photo / Thinkstock
Morris Stretch and his nephew Craig Wilson were collecting firewood when the swarm attacked. Photo / Thinkstock

The family of a man who died after being attacked by a swarm of wasps say his last words probably saved his nephew's life.

And they have revealed that Morris Stretch, 62, died on his daughter's 41st birthday.

Mr Stretch and his nephew Craig Wilson were collecting firewood at Kenepuru Sound in Marlborough on Saturday when the swarm attacked.

Mr Wilson's sister Darcia Mangakahia said the men were cutting wood when Mr Stretch realised he was standing on a wasp's nest.

"He told my brother to run. My brother remembers his uncle telling him, 'Run nephew - it's wasps'.

"He ran one way and my brother ran the other way. But my brother kept looking for him, he called out to him and tried to find him. It was very scary."

Soon after, Mr Wilson found his uncle on the road nearby.

"My brother got to him, tried to give him CPR, but it was too late."

A coroner told Mr Wilson that his uncle had suffered a fatal heart attack soon after the wasps began to sting him.

Mrs Mangakahia said Mr Stretch saved Mr Wilson's life.

"He [Mr Wilson] had wasps on his arms and head and everywhere. We think my uncle saved him by getting him to run when he did. We are very lucky. It could have been much worse."

Mrs Mangakahia said Mr Stretch's two children Rangitaiki Davidson and Justin Stretch were struggling with the news of his death.

Mrs Davidson turned 41 on Saturday.

"They're hurting because it's such a sudden death. And the other sad thing is that he died on his daughter's birthday. So there's more hurting there than anyone realises," Mrs Mangakahia said.

Mr Wilson was also suffering as he had to break the news to his mother - Mr Stretch's sister. The pair were very close and Mr Stretch had moved to be nearer to her and help her out after he retired.

"My brother's concern after Uncle Morris died was telling mum - having to give her that news.

"They'd left the house that morning to go out to Kenepuru; they'd planned to go fishing and all sorts of things. To give my mum that news is what he dreaded the most."

Mr Wilson was not up to speaking about the ordeal yesterday. Mrs Mangakahia said he was doing "okay".

"But he's very quiet."

The family were gathering at the Kereru Marae in Levin. Mr Stretch's body was taken there yesterday ahead of his funeral tomorrow.

Mrs Mangakahia said her uncle had been "fantastic".

He was born and raised in Foxton but spent many years in Palmerston North, where he worked for a cleaning company.

He retired last year and moved to Marlborough in December.

"He was a family man. He moved for a change of life because he had retired. Also, my mum and dad are getting on and he went there to help and have a change of lifestyle, just to be different.

"He was a lovely man. He loved children and he was very good to children. When he had his own children and grandchildren he absolutely loved them to pieces. He was a wonderful dad."

Mrs Mangakahia said her uncle was a Christian and loved life.

"He loved laughing. He was a joy to be around because he was a real jokester. He knew how to have fun; he was just one of those good guys."

- NZ Herald

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