He was described as a "master of making friends" and 1500 of them attended his funeral in Wanaka yesterday.

Matthew Timothy Wallis, 39, who died in a helicopter crash 10 days ago, was farewelled at a service held in a marquee at Wanaka Airport yesterday.

Matthew was the son of Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow founders Sir Tim and Prue Lady Wallis and one of four brothers involved in the Alpine Helicopters business that began 55 years ago.

Mourners were told that, “in a world of fluff and ego”, Matthew Wallis was genuine.
Mourners were told that, “in a world of fluff and ego”, Matthew Wallis was genuine.

Older brother Jonathan said Matthew was a "safe and capable pilot" and the family "categorically" did not know what caused the crash.

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"We do not blame anyone or anything for what has happened. Because of that, neither should you."

He and other family members spoke of their gratitude to those who helped recover Matthew's body and for the support from the community.

Matthew's wife, Alice, described her life with him as a "major adventure", and brothers Nick and Toby painted a picture of a colourful character never at a loss for a good idea.

Toby described him as "larger than life" and "always planning something unique, untested and new" and Nick said he had "a flair for the unusual".

Jonathan credited Matthew with developing the tourism side of the business, and others spoke of the personality that enabled him to do that.

Dave Hiatt, who worked with him on the development of the company's Minaret Station Alpine Lodge, said he was "one of the world's finest hosts".

"In a world of fluff and ego, Matthew was genuine."

His friend, Dougal Innes, recounted their hunting adventures together and likened Matthew to a "Jack Russell chasing a rabbit" who would not give up the chase.

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He had a great sense of humour and "never suffered from any form of embarrassment", he said.

The service ended with Matthew's brothers and friends carrying his casket to one of five helicopters.

While he and passengers were being loaded on board, an Ohakea-based Spitfire, a Warbirds show regular, performed aerobatics piloted by Squadron Leader Sean Perrett.

The fleet of helicopters then flew to Matthew's favourite places in the mountains.