Neighbours celebrate life gone too soon

By Kyra Dawson

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TRIBUTE: Sandra Bristowe is holding a celebration service for Ian White today. PHOTO/KYRA DAWSON
TRIBUTE: Sandra Bristowe is holding a celebration service for Ian White today. PHOTO/KYRA DAWSON

Friends and neighbours will gather today to celebrate the life of Rotorua man Ian White, saying he "deserved to be acknowledged" despite no funeral being held.

The body of Mr White, 58, was found at his Peace St home on May 3.

His death is being treated as suspicious by police.

Sandra Bristowe was a friend and neighbour to Mr White's mother for more than 12 years. She had known him for the past three years while he took care of his mother until she died in February.

"Death is a funny thing and it affects people in different ways and I get to know more about it the older I get ... the departure should be as pleasurable as the arrival ... you should celebrate all the good things about people. Everybody does something good ... there's good in everybody and we need to celebrate that.

"It's about Ian. He deserved to be acknowledged as a human being. He was lovely with his mum. Now this has happened to him and we don't know why."

Ms Bristowe is holding a celebration of Mr White's life at her house today.

"It's just sad that he hasn't been acknowledged, that's why I'm doing it.

"On the day I got a text from my neighbour saying Ian's house is online, go and have a look, so I had a look ... I thought, 'what's happened?', so I text Ian and said 'are you okay, can I help?' and, of course, I didn't get a reply.

"We all saw him as a nice guy and passionate about looking after his mum. Ian lived with her and looked after her ... he moved to Peace St after she passed.

"He was brutally compassionate, that's how I would describe him because he could be gruff, he had a loud voice, that was just the way he came across but he was so compassionate and had a soft heart.

"He borrowed my hedge trimmers one day and when he brought them back he had removed the chain and sharpened it and oiled it all up and it was like brand new. That's the kind of guy he was.

"I just want to acknowledge him, that's what we all want. Some of the people coming have known him since he was 8 years old."

She also plans to put black balloons on a seat outside her house that honours Michelle Hoffman-Tamm, another former neighbour, who was murdered three years ago.

Mr White's brother Graham White said his brother's family had already had a farewell for him in Auckland. He said they had decided not to have a funeral but did not wish to comment any further.

District field crime manager Detective Senior Sergeant Lew Warner said the investigation into Mr White's death could go on for some weeks. He said police were waiting for forensic results to come back and until then they couldn't say anything more.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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