Clinette Riggs — the accomplished horse rider who died in a hunting accident — has been remembered by her heartbroken family as a caring mother who lived life to the full.
The 61-year-old was on an organised hunt two weeks ago in Waiohau, Bay of Plenty, when she fell from her horse. She sustained a serious head injury in the July 25 fall and died the next day.
Her son, Jarrod Riggs, and daughter, Tracey Brownlee, told the Herald on Sunday their mother was a selfless and popular woman who was excited for the next chapter in her life.
She had just returned to her hometown of Opotiki.
"We're just really going to miss her," Brownlee said. "She had the greatest love and passion for animals. She was also all about getting everyone together over some home cooking. She was all things social."
Days before the accident, Riggs had phoned her Australia-based son Jarrod when, heartbreakingly, the pair had discussed his family returning to New Zealand so Clinette could "have her son back home" for a visit.
"We'd not been back in a couple of years so we were planning to have a holiday with mum," Riggs said from Yeppoon, Queensland.
"She hadn't mentioned she was going on the hunt, though she was pretty active with her horse riding. She was often out and about.
"She was quite positive because her new place in Opotiki had stables for all three of her horses and five acres of land.
"She was excited by what she was going to do with it and to set down her roots. It's just a tragic accident."
Riggs said his mother would be remembered as a woman who had a heart for animals, particularly those in need.
"Mum would have rescued about 30 cats in her lifetime. If they had one eye or three legs, she would take them in and look after them," he said.
"That friendly, outgoing nature showed at the funeral. More than 200 people attended, including all the hunt people who gave her a guard of honour. She was such an outgoing person who made friends wherever she went."
Riggs said his mother's care of others also shone through in her professional life, including a 23-year stint as a customer service officer at New Zealand Steel in Glenbrook. "She was a force of nature," he said.