About 40 bikers dressed in black
leather formed a funeral procession for patched
Rebels Motorcycle Club member Craig Ritchie
died on Friday after he collided with a 10-tonne
Nissan truck and trailer unit on State Highway 2
turning right into Gill Lane, while riding his
beloved Harley-Davidson V-Rod.
Friends and family lined the
road either side of the cemetery yesterday,
taking images and video, as the motorcade roared
up Pyes Pa Rd.
Mr Ritchie's casket was
carried from a white hearse by Rebels New
Zealand Motorcycle Club and Filthy Few members,
followed by friends and family to his final
His coffin was adorned with
the New Zealand flag.
There were about 100 people at
the small graveside service as he was farewelled
by those who loved him.
The motorcade began about 12pm
at Mr Ritchie's tattooing business in Roxanne
Place, Windermere, before travelling through
Tauranga and Mount Maunganui on the way to Pyes
As mourners gathered around Mr
Ritchie, flowers and mementos were placed on his
coffin. Family members carried red roses.
Mr Ritchie's devastated family
were still reeling from his death.
His partner of six years,
Samantha Neilsen, 28, said Mr Ritchie, who was
nicknamed Stitch, was her best friend.
"Family always came first with
Craig, especially his three daughters, whom he
adored, and life without him will never be the
same," she said.
Ms Neilsen said she took some
comfort in the fact her partner died while doing
something he loved.
"Craig loved riding and he was
passionate about anything to do with motorbikes
and rode every day, no matter what the weather
"It was a real social thing
for him and he loved the camaraderie he got from
being in the club. Craig loved nothing better
than riding to a mate's place for a coffee and a
chat." Additional reporting Sandra Conchie