The thunderous noise of motorbikes reverberated around the buildings of central Whangārei as a gifted tattooist killed in a car crash was given an emotional farewell from his studio.
David Hart, 45, of Whangārei, died on Saturday after he was thrown from the car he was driving. The vehicle crashed down a bank on the southern side of Lookout Hill, south of Whangārei.
Police said Hart, a father of four and grandfather of two, was travelling with another vehicle when they collided in the northbound passing lanes and both vehicles went off the road. Hart was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown out of his vehicle. The other man, aged 25, suffered a broken leg.
Bunches of flowers and letters and notes of condolence had been laid at the door of his Native Inc Tattoo Studio in Whangārei since his death.
A hearse delivered his coffin to the business on Bank St and was taken inside at 11am. About 150 people gathered to pay their respects, including family, friends and neighbours from Raumanga.
As the coffin was returned to the hearse, the crowd performed a haka.
Hart was a member of the Highway 61 gang and a large contingent of gang members on motorbikes lead the hearse up Bank St to Pipiwai about 11.55am.
A relative said Hart had been tattooing for about 30 years and was a gifted artist who had touched many people with his work.
His aunt, Jocelyn Bazil, said the studio was open primarily for tattooing but a steady stream of people from all walks of life went there for a cuppa or even counselling.
"He always welcomed anyone and tried to help. If there was a tangi he would always be the first one to offer help and be the last one to leave."
Whangārei's John McGrath said Hart had been a talented artist who was very humble.
"Every time I was in there getting work done he would always have people coming in to talk. He will be sorely missed."
Raumanga resident and chairperson of the local community board Kim Anderson said Hart would always help at community events.
The funeral service for Hart will be held at Tau Henare Marae at Pipiwai on Wednesday.
Police said the death had been referred to the coroner. His death took Northland's road toll for the year to 21.