In a fitting farewell full of laughter and love one of the legal profession's most colourful characters has been given a send off he would have enjoyed.

The funeral service for John Te Manihera Chadwick, NZOM, had many people in tears of both laughter and sadness at Te Papaiouru marae in Ohinemutu this morning.

Mr Chadwick, husband of Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, died suddenly on Friday in Rotorua Hospital, he was 72.

His coffin was a plain pine construction that his family and friends had written touching tributes and messages on.

Advertisement
John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker

The crowd of more than 1000 people was a who's who of the country's legal, political and iwi fraternities from all points of the social spectrum.

The service was led by Reverend Tom Poata who himself had many long debates with Mr Chadwick regarding matters of faith.

Photo/Stephen Parker
Photo/Stephen Parker

Delivering eulogies were Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust chairman and local dentist Stewart Edward, Judge Louis Bidois, brother-in-law Dick Frizzell and son Rama Chadwick.

Monty Morrison. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
Monty Morrison. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker

Before the service Mrs Chadwick spoke to the Rotorua Daily Post about the loss of her "rock" - the man she had spent 49 years married to.

"John was a man of words and music," she said.

"For John and I, we both knew where there was death there was life and this is the start of a new journey without him for us."

John Chadwick pictured on the front of the order of service for today's funeral.
John Chadwick pictured on the front of the order of service for today's funeral.

Mrs Chadwick said her husband was born while all of his aunties were playing cards in Ohakune, "he came in a hurry and went out in a hurry".

She said the classic film Gone With the Wind was playing at the local cinema at the time "and his nannies used to say that whenever he opened his mouth the wind blew his tongue around ever since".

Advertisement

"His friends from university always called him the 'great wall of sound'."

"He had a happy childhood from a labouring background with wonderful brothers and sisters so wherever the work was they went there - fencing, shearing, the freezing works."

She said he got his love of the written word from his mother, a "devout Christian and a woman of books and words".

"John would have read The Bible hundreds of times, not necessarily for the message, but for the stories.

"I met him when they were living in Te Hoki village near Hawke's Bay.

"I saw him at the Highland Games and thought he was the most beautiful man so my sister invited him to a party as long as I prepared the supper.

"He asked me to dance when I was just 14.

"He loved his rugby, he loved me and had an innate drive to be educated."

She said it was Hawke's Bay family the Pharazyns who introduced the pair to the concept of socialism, something she said guided the pair throughout their lives.

However, she said it was by mistake Mr Chadwick decided to go to law school after initially wanting to go into medicine.

"He went to Victoria University when I was still at school, but he got into the wrong queue and ended up studying law."

Mrs Chadwick said the past few days had been "very peaceful and serendipitous".

"It's also been incredibly beautiful and we are very much enriched by the experience."

Photo/Stephen Parker
Photo/Stephen Parker

Mr Chadwick was cremated after the service with Mrs Chadwick saying his ashes would be scattered in Te Arawa territory at Maketu, Tuwharetoa, Ngati Kahungunu - where his parents were buried - and also in Ngati Tama territory in Petone, in a year or so.

"I feel very much at peace, I have lost my rock, but some have said to me he was a meteor because when he gave me wisdom, I soared."

Photo/Stephen Parker
Photo/Stephen Parker

His son Rama said his father was a confident man, so confident he could get away with wearing a fez on the streets of Rotorua.

"But to me one of the things that defined my dad was his long silences ... his love, compassion and his support.

"You were a great man and a great dad."

John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
Dick Frizzell. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
Dick Frizzell. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker

Mr Frizzell told an amusing story about his search for the "perfect" Hawaiian shirt that took him all the way to Hawaii - only to find Mr Chadwick sitting at home with an even better one on that he had found in a shop in Te Puke.

He also delivered an emotional reading of a poem by Sam Hunt.

Louis Bidois. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
Louis Bidois. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker

Judge Bidois said when he worked for and with Mr Chadwick they always felt they were one of the "brokest" law firms around, but also one of the richest in terms of understanding their clients' needs.

"Why? Because we were Maori and we knew the meaning of koha ... we couldn't figure out what to charge.

"John inspired us to do our best. He had four long-term legal partners, three of whom became judges ... all due to John, we are truly indebted to him."

Stewart Edward. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
Stewart Edward. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker
John Chadwick's funeral at Ohinemutu. 30 May 2017 Daily Post photograph by Stephen Parker