BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

The Tinui man who died in a motorcycle crash on New Year’s Day was due to marry his long-time partner, and the mother of their five children, this weekend.

Isaac Epps, 43, was killed when the motorcycle he and his partner, Sandy Gray, were riding on Masterton-Castlepoint Rd collided with a ute at 5.20pm on January 1.

Mr Epp’s death, which brought the holiday road toll to 12, has rocked the small Wairarapa community.

“What people will remember him by is he was always very humble and had a huge smile on his face,” Mr Epps’ employer, Charlie White from Peninsula Station said yesterday, speaking to the Times-Age on behalf of the family.

“He didn’t say a lot, but actions were louder than words.”

His partner and their five children, ranging from age six to the early 20s, were always his priority, and were still ‘shell-shocked’ by Mr Epp’s death.

Miss Gray is now back at home after a brief period in Wairarapa hospital following the accident.

She and Mr Epps were going to be married in a private ceremony this weekend.

This was to be the next step in life for the couple who had been together since they were about 20 years old, Mr White said.

The family recently had pre-wedding photos taken to celebrate, Mr White said.

Mr Epps ‘could put his hand to anything’ when it came to the mechanical side of things.

“Quite often people would pop up there if they wanted things fixed, and he was always quite happy to do a bit of welding and help people out.”

In the garage was always a handful of classic cars, and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, Mr White said.

Mr Epps was a member of the Unwanted Social Motorcycle Club.

He enjoyed attending swap meets and drag racing.

“He had a very keen interest in V8s with lots of noise,” Mr White said.

The couple were originally from Hawke’s Bay and moved to Tinui about 20 years ago, Mr Epps working as a wool presser in a local shearing gang.

They then moved to a nearby Tinui farm, Rock View, owned by Ross and Jo Wakeling, where Mr Epps began farming.

Mr White employed him in 2010 as a full-time shepherd.

With five children at the Tinui school over the years, the family were well involved in the community, he said.

“They were a true Maori family, there’s been a heap of extended family being brought up by them as well . . . he’s mentored many extended family members.

“He was one of life’s good guys. He was out here wanting to give his children a solid upbringing.”

Mr Epps’ death was a huge loss to Tinui and the wider community, Mr White said.

He was buried at his family’s marae in Hawke’s Bay on Sunday, following three days at his home in Tinui for the family to say their final goodbyes.

Mr White said the family wanted to thank the community for their amazing support.

“There’s been an amazing reaction from the community, the amount of people that have turned up to offer support has been incredible.”