By Hayley Gastmeier
No one was ever in much doubt about what Richard Riddiford was thinking.
Those were the words of Tim Castle, who recited a Karakia which wrapped up yesterday’s private funeral service for the wine pioneer.
Between 500 and 600 people gathered to remember Mr Riddiford in his hometown of Martinborough at Palliser Estate, of which he was a founding director.
The 65-year-old died last Tuesday following a short battle with cancer.
Master of Ceremonies David Kershaw joked to the packed cellar that his late long-time friend would be urging him to “get on with it”.
Mr Kershaw said Mr Riddiford was a man who “did not accept the normal or mundane” and who “was larger than life in so many ways, yet so shy and humble”.
Mark Riddiford said his brother had “established himself as a dynamic leader” whose life was “deeply rooted” in Wairarapa.
Mr Riddiford helped put Martinborough on the wine map and was the driving force behind Toast Martinborough, contributing largely to the success of the event which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Norman Miller said Mr Riddiford was “a light-house of a man”, who could “bestow nick-names upon people” like no one else, and whose actions spoke louder than words.
Mr Riddiford had arranged for the body of a friend’s son to be returned to New Zealand from Mexico following a helicopter crash.
When times were tough, Mr Riddiford “stepped up to the plate”, Mr Miller said.
“He passed away in breathtakingly quick fashion taking everyone by surprise.”
Alexandra Morrison said her father’s close friend “led by example and taught us the important things, like how to swear and get away with it”.
She said Mr Riddiford had shown her that it did not matter what other people thought.
“He taught us to be inspired and to think outside the box.”
Andrew Meehan said his friend’s CV would have been impressive – had he compiled one.
At the age of 50 Mr Riddiford was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2010 he was inducted into the NZ Wine Hall of Fame.
Rob Morrison said Mr Riddiford was “black and white in his views and he always delivered them forcefully”.
However, Mr Riddiford was incredibly loyal to others.
“One of his endearing qualitied was he treated everyone equally.”
Near the end of the service Mr Kershaw took the floor once more, saying Mr Riddiford was “a hell of an individual who is a long way from being common”.
“His departure will leave a big hole in Martinborough… he took Martinborough and Palliser on to the global stage.”
Mr Riddiford is to be buried at the Featherston Cemetery in the Riddiford family plot.
By Hayley Gastmeier