A well-known Kerikeri community stalwart, JP and real-estate agent has died on his way to a grandchild's birthday party.
Ian Cecil Knox, 66, was found by a family member at 4.45pm on Saturday. He was slumped at the wheel of his car, which had left the road at the top of Bulls Gorge on State Highway 10. His death shocked family, friends, workmates and the many community organisations with which he was involved.
Perhaps Mr Knox's biggest contribution was his role in setting up the Kerikeri Retirement Village, for which - among other services to the community - he was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 1998.
While Mr Knox's death is being treated initially as a road fatality, the cause is thought to have been medical. A post-mortem examination was to take place yesterday.
Senior Sergeant Peter Robinson, of Kerikeri police, said family members went looking for Mr Knox when he did not show up.
Mr Knox, of Ray White in Kerikeri, had been in the industry since 1966 and was awarded a Fellowship of the New Zealand Real Estate Institute in 1995.
He became a JP in 1985, was a founding member of the Far North Justices of the Peace Association, and served as national president of the New Zealand Federation of Justices of the Peace. He also contributed greatly to the Kerikeri RSA, of which he was a life member, and had recently taken an active role in the Bay of Islands branch of Riding for the Disabled.
As Kerikeri Village Trust founding chairman, he oversaw, with Keith Ardern, the construction of the not-for-profit village. Mr Ardern said: "His contribution to Kerikeri was significant, and done without any regard for himself."
Mr Knox is survived by his wife, Beren, four daughters and four grandchildren. His funeral will be at 2pm on Thursday at the Kerikeri RSA.