Partner of Kaikoura earthquake victim overwhelmed with Kiwis' generosity

By Cherie Howie, Matthew Theunissen

Gary Morton's Mt Lyford log cabin home.
Gary Morton's Mt Lyford log cabin home.

He lost his partner, his home and is sore all over after the weekend's devastating earthquake in the northeastern South Island.

But Gary Morton is overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of Kiwis who have reached out in his time of need.

He's receive about eight offers from helicopter companies to transport the body of his wife, Jo-Anne Mackinnon, to her grave site in Kaikoura. And he's been inundated with the question "how are ya? Is there anything I can do?"

"The kindness and generosity has been overwhelming," Morton told the Herald from Christchurch.

In the end, plans were made with three helicopter companies to transport Jo-Anne's casket and five or six family members to Kaikoura on Wednesday.

Two helicopters are generously being provided free-of-charge by John Taylor of Burnside Contractors and private helicopter owner Duncan Storrier, of Midlands Seed Limited.

Pilots from Independent Helicopters have donated their time to fly the two choppers.

"You know, we were prepared to pay for it - I wasn't trying to get anything free - but ... the kindness of people has just been amazing. I've lost my house, I've lost everything.

"People say that the EQC are just hopeless and all of that but so far I've got a really, really nice reply from them about how they're going to help me as much as they possibly can and also from my insurance company. The council have also been very helpful and have asked if there's anything they can do."

But needless to say it's been a hard week.

"Oh yeah, not very good. Bloody fell over and scraped all my knee and my foot is all infected 'cause I was wearing old gumboots and I couldn't get into the house to get my clothes - I've got no clothes or anything. I'm going to get some clothes now and get a suit for the funeral," he said.

The funeral service will be held in Christchurch on Tuesday and the burial will take place on Wednesday in Kaikoura, where Jo-Anne was born.

Morton earlier said the one last thing he wanted to do with the woman he shared his life with was to return the 55-year-old to the place she came into the world.

"She was born in Kaikoura and has a family plot there," he said.

Recounting the terrible ordeal the couple went through on Monday night, Morton said they ran for the door when the quake struck.

"I could feel her hitting my back. Then some bolts holding the log cabin down broke and the cabin moved very sharply and we both hit the ground hard.

"I have lots of cuts but that's all. I could not find her and was yelling out with no reply."

He went to his car and turned the headlights on.

"I put the lights on the doorway and there she was."

With no power or phone, and few permanent residents in the village, Morton sought help at Mt Lyford Lodge 500m away.

Staff were helping guests so a tourist went back to the cabin with him, Morton said. They attempted CPR, but Jo-Anne was gone.

It was 14 hours before a helicopter arrived to take her body to Christchurch. Morton stayed by her side the whole time.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 25 Mar 2017 06:39:16 Processing Time: 669ms