Former Hawke's Bay Magpies player Roger Chappell has been farewelled by more than 600 people in an hour-long service at Pukehou Marae, south of Hastings, today.
Father of two Mr Chappell, 42, was one of two people killed in a crash between Eketahuna and Masterton on Sunday. The crash also claimed the life of 77-year-old Eric Frank Bird, of Paihiatua, who died at Wellington Hospital, while Mr Chappell's 2-month-old daughter and his partner Jessica Karaitiana were also injured.
Ms Karaitiana was unable to be at the tangi as she was at the side of the couple's daughter, who remains at Starship Hospital in Auckland. However, she listened to the service via mobile phone.
Speakers at the service reflected on Mr Chappell's devotion to rugby and the Otane community, uncle Mike Ataera spoke about how the player returned after playing rugby overseas to help coach the local players coming through.
He brought a new training regime to the small town, and Mr Ataera said the younger players would watch and ask: "What's this fella on?"
Sister Vikki told of one of the greatest days Mr Chappell would recall was playing first division club rugby for Otane as a teenager and beating powerhouse city club Taradale.
The Te Aute College old boy played for several clubs including Celtic, Hastings Rugby and Sports, Napier Tech, Taradale and Wairoa Athletic, and made representative honours for Central Vikings, Hawke's Bay Magpies, East Coast and Central Sub Union.