Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Tangi for dead Waihi miner Tipiwai Stainton

Tipiwai Stainton, right, and partner Ana-Lee Hemopo. Photo / via Facebook
Tipiwai Stainton, right, and partner Ana-Lee Hemopo. Photo / via Facebook

Tipiwai Stainton, the man who died in a mining accident in Waihi this week, will be farewelled at a tangi on Monday.

The tangi for the 29-year-old will be held at Maraenui Marae near Te Kaha.

Stainton, who attended Opotiki College, was killed after the front-end loader he was operating inside OceanaGold's Correnso mine fell into a void he was backfilling with waste rock.

OceanaGold spokesman Kit Wilson said workers lost radio communication with Stainton about 6.30pm on Thursday.

When another worker who was sent to the scene could not find Stainton a full-scale rescue operation was launched.

Wilson said the mine rescue team found the 50-tonne front-end loader, also known as a bogger, upside down in the stope, about 200m underground and 2km from the entrance.

"They got to the loader, it was upside down, there was still rock falling around and they couldn't see Tip."

The team descended further into the mine to get below the bogger, where they located Stainton's body in the cab.

"The ironic and really sad part about this is Tip had just been made a leader of one of the mine rescue teams so this was the team rescuing one of their own. It's remarkably hard."

Stainton's body was brought out of the mine at 11pm.

The mine has been shut down while WorkSafe New Zealand investigates the cause of the accident.

Police handed the scene over yesterday and are continuing investigations on behalf of the Coroner.

Part of the investigation will focus on the front-end loader, which needs to be brought to the surface first.

It's understood Stainton's long-term partner Ana-Lee Hemopo was at the scene with her young son.

The daughter of New Zealand copper artist Fabian Hemopo, Ana-Lee was yesterday said to be heartbroken.

Tributes have been flowing for Stainton, a keen hunter and fisherman, on social media since the tragedy.

Kate Gardam posted a poignant message on Facebook saying the accident had left the whanau with an overwhelming sense of grief.

"Tragedy has hit our little whanau. We lost our darling Tip to a mining accident last night."

One friend told Hemopo her partner of three-and-a-half years was a "good man with high morals".

"... he will never be forgotten".

Wilson said OceanaGold would wait until after Stainton's tangi to pay tribute to their friend and colleague out of respect for the family.

- NZ Herald

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