At a funeral today for the victim of the fishing tragedy, Mark Sanders, it became clear the man from Waikato will be remembered for his humor.
More than a hundred people gathered at Te Awamutu to bid farewell to Sanders who lost his life when the charter fishing boat Enchanter sank off the North Cape last Sunday evening in rough seas. Four other people died in the tragic accident.
During the funeral service, people laughed tears and laughed simultaneously as memories were shared.
Her service was held at Alexandra House Chapel and a fishing boat sat in the funeral home’s yard during the proceedings.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the funeral was by invitation only and capped at 100 guests.
However, Sanders left a much bigger mark on the community.
He was a builder, rugby player and horse trainer as well as an avid fisherman.
Longtime friend and owner of the Storyteller Bar & Eatery Kane Osborne and his wife Bridie closed the doors today so all of Sander’s friends could gather to watch a live stream of the funeral.
Many of them had known Sanders since they were children and played rugby with him at Te Awamutu Sports, the club he played more than 100 games for.
Both ends of the Storyteller Bar & Eatery in Te Awamutu were full as friends listened to Mark Sanders’ funeral livestream. Photo / Caitlan Johnston
A fellow rugby player, who wished to remain anonymous, said Sanders was the life and soul of the team.
“He was just an absolute character – always rapping, commenting and bringing people together for a laugh,” they said.
In an emotional final goodbye, the bar crowd performed a haka for Sanders as the hearse passed.
Sanders will be particularly missed by his wife Megan and his three children, Reese, Sienna and Ali, as well as his parents Gael and Graeme and his older siblings Craig and Debbie.
“Marque, you left an irreplaceable hole in all of our lives,” Craig said.
Reese, 17, Sander’s eldest child, said she could talk for hours about her father, but there weren’t enough words to say how much she loved him.
“I know he will despise and love us more and more every day,” she said.
Mark Sanders with his wife Megan and family Ali, Reese and Sienna. Photo / Provided
The kids talked about fun times they had with their dad – once he almost wore their mum’s sports clothes on a family walk and he always reminded them that they weren’t there. person they are today without him.
Sanders was on the trip of his life on the Enchanter – a trip he had dreamed of for years. He wanted to catch a big one.
A Givealittle page to help support the Sanders family raised nearly $34,000.
A friend said the generosity came down to the “massive footprint” Sanders had left over the past two decades.