A paddle out to honour a well-known New Brighton surfer who passed away after a short battle with cancer was held on Saturday.
Families, friends and fellow surfers gathered at the north ramp near the New Brighton Pier to remember Rangimaria (Rangi) Adrian Te Otimi King, 42, who died from liver cancer on May 4.
Described as an “outstanding surfer” and a “New Brighton legend”, King was a professional surfer whose career took off in the late 1980s. He was a member of the New Zealand scholastics team and his career highlights included beating former professional surfer Martin Potter.
King was competing at the Konica all stars skin contest at Sandon Point, Wollongong, when he beat Potter in the early 1990s.
King narrowly came second to Australian surfer Mark Occhilupo in the Konica contest.
He began surfing at age 11 after volunteers, including his father Wally, helped start a surfing programme as part of St Ambrose Anglican Church’s drop-in centre.
Faith Family Fellowship Aranui soon found out the group was interested in surfing and donated their old surfboards from the 1940s.
It wasn’t long before King “caught the bug”. He took just three weeks to pick up surfing while the rest of the group took about 18 months.
His sister Nga Anderson said he would borrow other people’s surfboards and they would laugh at him until they saw him surf.
“That was when they had different respect for him,” she said.
EXIT Surf Shop owner Tristan Bennett said no one had heard of him before he competed in a Canterbury scholastic surfing competition when he was 13 and “blew everyone away”.
“I have got people who would come into the surf shop and say ‘I have just been down at Brighton; there is a kid out there destroying it’,” he said.
Photographer Warren Hawke, who travelled with King for photoshoots over a period of two to three years, said he had an uncanny natural surfing ability.
He said at the beginning of his career, King started to win contests on surfboards which were not even up to high performance level at the time.
He was quickly picked up as a professional and sponsored by the Exit Surf Shop, surf clothing and board company O’Neill, and POTTZ Surfboards, among others.
King’s pro career lasted more than 10 years into his early 20s.
After he stopped surfing professionally, he continued to teach surfing in New Brighton.
Close friend Sam Johnston, who started out surfing with King, said he was unique in and out of the water, a talented guitarist and good at any sport he played.
Another friend Haydo Brain said King was one of the most influential surfers for him growing up, and one of New Zealand’s best, fastest and most progressive board riders during and after his pro carreer.
Hundreds turned out for King’s funeral at Clareville Cemetery, Carterton, on May 7.