A Hawke's Bay station owner's death following a helicopter crash has left a hole in the country's farming and wool industries, family and friends say.
Renata Apatu co-owned the 28,000ha Ngamatea Station, near Waiouru, with family members, where he raised sheep and beef and opened his land as a popular hunting and fishing destination.
Friend and Wright Wool wool brokerage general manager Phillipa Wright said Apatu was a gentleman for whom nothing seemed to difficult.
"It's a huge loss to the farming community, it's a huge loss to the wool industry," she said.
Aged in his 40s, Apatu was one of five people on a helicopter that crashed yesterday morning about 35km northeast of Waiouru.
He was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital in a critical condition, before a statement was issued today on behalf of his family.
Asking for privacy, the family said: "He was a hugely loved husband, father and brother, and much loved by all his wider family and friends. His death is a tragic loss not only to his family but the wider farming community, and to all those who knew and loved him."
Two men, one in his 40s and the other in his 30s, remain in a serious but stable condition.
Two other men did not need hospital treatment.
Wright said Apatu got his passion for wool and breeding sheep from his mother.
Among his various roles, he served as chairman of the New Zealand Campaign for Wool Trust.
"He stood on world stage representing NZ wool growers at a recent wool congress in Hong Kong," Wright said.
"He has dined with Prince Charles, who is the patron of the Campaign for Wool, at Dumfries House (in Scotland)."
He also recently qualified as someone who could class the quality of the wool he produced on his family's station.
"He sat a wool certificate and passed with distinction, he was somebody who could walk the talk," Wright said.
"Nothing was too difficult – he could see what he wanted in the future and he didn't let anything stop him from going for it."
The Hughes MD600N helicopter Apatu was in was undertaking a commercial survey operation yesterday when at 8.50am an alert was picked up from near the Oturua Stream, the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ said.
It is thought those on the helicopter were busy assessing the growth of crops in the area.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has sent three investigators to the crash site and opened an inquiry.
The chief investigator of accidents, Captain Tim Burfoot, said the helicopter was extensively damaged in the crash.