Funeral held for climbers killed on Mt Taranaki

By Heather McCracken

The photo of Hiroki Ogawa and Nicole Sutton used in the service sheet at their funeral.
The photo of Hiroki Ogawa and Nicole Sutton used in the service sheet at their funeral.

Ice picks were held up in a guard of honour as the caskets of climbers Nicole Sutton and Hiroki Ogawa left a church in Auckland today following their joint funeral.

The couple were farewelled by about 600 people at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell following their deaths on Mr Taranaki over Labour Weekend.

They had been climbing as part of the New Zealand Alpine Club's annual trip to the mountain.

The service was led by the Reverend Tony Surman, with tributes from Peter Cammell from the NZ Alpine Club and Professor Paul Kench from the University of Auckland.

Sutton family friend Gavin Hoare and a friend of the couple, Joe Fagan, also spoke at the service.

The service sheet for the funeral carried a photo of Ms Sutton and Dr Ogawa on a grassy hilltop, surrounded by mountains, A message from the families on the service sheet thanked the Taranaki and Ruapehu rescue services and police involved in the rescue operation.

The families also thanked Dr Ogawa's colleagues and students at the University of Auckland, and the Auckland section of the NZ Alpine Club.

Ms Sutton, 29, and Dr Ogawa, 31, died after being trapped sheltering in an ice trench near the summit for two nights in bad weather.

A search and rescue party reached the pair early on the morning of Monday, October 28, but found Dr Ogawa already dead. Ms Sutton died before rescuers were able to get her off the mountain.

Their bodies were winched off by the Air Force the following day.

Dr Ogawa's parents arrived in New Zealand from Japan last week.

Family and friends hugged one another, and some came forward to lay sprigs of greenery on the caskets as they left the church under a guard of honour formed by ice picks.

Police are investigating the deaths on behalf of the coroner, and the New Zealand Alpine Club said this week it would independently review the trip.

- APNZ

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