MARK Inman has paid tribute to his brother Hayden Marshall-Inman, a man who would give you the shirt off his back, would offer to take clients he guided on trips to Lake Tarawera on his own time and whose kindness and generosity has started new tradition in Whakatane.
He has also welcomed news that police would be going to the island today to recover his brother’s body, as well as those of seven other people, including another White Island Tours guide, Tipene Maangi.
Mr Inman has made headlines over the past few days in his drive to have his 40-year-old brother’s body retrieved from Whakaari/White Island, following his death from Monday’s eruption.
A helicopter pilot, Tom Storey, found Mr Marshall-Inman’s body during his flight to the island on Monday afternoon while rescuing people. He moved the body from a stream to a safe spot in the hope of returning to recover it. However, he has not been able to and has gone public saying opportunities had been missed to return to the island and he and other pilots were ready and waiting to go.
The announcement yesterday afternoon that police would be returning to the island to recover the bodies was welcomed by Mr Inman.
“It is good news,” he told the Beacon, although he said he had not yet been told that a recovery operation would begin today, and he was about to meet officials where it was likely to be discussed last night.
Mr Inman said earlier yesterday that is wasn’t just Hayden’s body they wanted returned.
“We are trying to get everyone back. Hayden is important to us, we want to get him back, but we really want everyone back as well.”
He said if he pushed to get Hayden back and then they recovered the others too it would be the result they were after.
“You’ve got Tipene out there, you have got international guests out there.
“We are struggling and frustrated with the communication, and I am a local who is well connected in this area. Can you imagine Tipene’s whanau from down the coast? Can you imagine the Australians from overseas, how is the communication going with them?”
But he said a turning point had been when they brought helicopter operator Mark Law into the picture.
“I pleaded with [Police Minister Stuart] Nash and [Deputy Police Commissioner] Mike Clements they need to use the local guys, the local knowledge because they are the experts, they still read the same charts as all the geologists and all the rest of it.”
Mr Nash arrived in Whakatane on Wednesday where he replaced Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims with Mike Clement, following frustration expressed by media and families about communication.
“I found out more information first-hand from inside rooms than I do from the police headquarters,” Mr Inman said.
Mr Inman said there had been much frustration with red tape and bureaucracy.
“The frustration around listening to [GNS Science] who gives a data reading saying this may or may not happen versus our local pilots and guides who go on that island three times a day and assess the situation and read the same graphs before they leave to ensure everybody is safe.
“Everyone says listen to the experts, but they are not listening to the experts who go to the island.”
Mr Inman said when he flew near the island on Wednesday night, to the five nautical mile boundary, a pilot who was sitting next to him was trembling.
“The fact that we flew out there and you could see the gases and fumes going north and the area where the bodies are clear, he was beside himself, because why are we waiting?
“The end result is to get everybody off that island so we can have the grieving process. We can deal with the red tape and the paperwork and if you want to lay blame there is no blame, it is an active volcano and we all know the risks involved. The pilots want to go.
Mr Inman said his brother lived in the moment.
“Hayden took every moment. He lived his life for a moment in time and he made the most of everyone, he loved the island, he loved the water and he loved people.
“He gave $5 to the dairy for people who couldn’t afford or were short of change every week. He hid lollies in his house for his nephew and niece so when they came, they could find them. He would take international tourists off the island and invite them to stay or ask them what they were doing tomorrow and say he would take them out to Tarawera Falls or ‘I will take you out to see the glow worms’, all those little extras that your average Joe Blogs wouldn’t do. He would take the shirt off his back and give it to you.
“It was proven in the White Island disaster before when the boat went down, he was the last person off.
“And by all accounts he survived the initial blast and walked to support others.”
Mr Marshall-Inman’s tradition of giving $5 to help others at the dairy has started a trend.
“I went to get a coffee at the Moxi Café and people have started a givealittle, so everyone is giving $5 for those who can’t. So, I said ‘no, no, here is my $5, you give it to someone else, so there is a thing started,” Mr Inman said.
He said the Whakatane community was giving the family support.
“We have had food and gifts and had 440 messages for a post on Facebook … and then you have text messages.”