Media statement from the family of Lance Hopping

Thursday 12 January 2012, 7:31PM
By New Zealand Police


The following statement can be attributed to Nina Kelynack, Henare Hopping, Hayley Hopping and Dani Siemonek:

'Lance Robert Hopping (Hoppy) loved Carterton. He was born here, attending Southend School and Kuranui College, before working at the Waingawa Freezing Works in Masterton after he finished school.

After several years at the freezing works, Hoppy then went to work at Paua World, learning to carve paua and craft jewellery. Hoppy was instrumental in growing and marketing the business over the years he spent working there.

Hoppy got his helicopter pilot's licence about 30 years ago as a hobby, even once delivering his children Henare and Hayley to school via his helicopter!

He had been ballooning for around 20 years, gaining his pilot's accreditation for hot air ballooning in 1995. His company Ballooning New Zealand had been in operation for about 17 years.

For the past few years, Hoppy also worked part time as a truancy officer throughout the Wairarapa at local primary and high schools and got a lot of satisfaction from pushing kids in the right direction.

It's really hard to describe Hoppy in a few words because he had such a big personality but he was always really happy, vibrant, caring, big hearted, with a good sense of humour and a cheeky grin.

Friends also referred to Hoppy as the 'Little General' in reference to his height and his bossiness!

He was a loving father to Henare (aged 35), Hayley (aged 31) and Dani (aged 22) and loving partner to Nina.

Hoppy was a very proud Grandad to Henare's two girls Taylor (aged 8) and Kora, born two weeks ago in Sydney and to Hayley's two children Talea (aged 11) and Ezekial (aged 6) and Dani's two girls Ellie (aged 4) and Paige (aged 2).

Hoppy was really looking forward to meeting his newest granddaughter Kora in April, having only seen photos of her.

Family was a huge part of his life, as was ballooning and the community of Carterton. Everyone in Carterton knew Hoppy and he will be greatly missed. He is gone too soon.'

The following can be attributed to Lance Hopping's sisters Lynette Helm, Karen (Kaz) Taylor and Sandra Andrickson:

'Our father Martin was terminally ill with cancer and he came from Australia to New Zealand to find his birth son.

That son was Lance and from that day 17 years ago, they made up for the years apart and spent as much time together as they could.

Unfortunately Dad only had a short time with Lance, but the three of us were lucky enough to be able to continue a loving relationship with our brother.

Lance was a great brother, he had a great loving relationship with his family and friends and there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for anyone.

He loved his Harley, he loved his helicopters and balloons and he loved to drive his car fast, but his greatest love was his family.'

The Hopping family would like to thank the Copthorne Hotel, Cross Country Car Rentals and Captain Lyn from the Salvation Army for all their support and help.

We would also like to thank all of the Police for their overwhelming help from day one.

The services involved in the accident we also thank for tending to our loved ones with care and respect.

The ground crew who worked and loved Lance - we thank you for the comforting words, under huge grief yourselves.

The Victim Support group and locals who donated food and help were wonderful and we would love to thank each and every one of them.

Please note, the Hopping family do not wish to conduct any further media interviews. Hoppy's funeral will be for family and friends only and media are not permitted to attend.