Noelene Tait wouldn’t have wanted to be remembered as “that old lady who died in a car accident”, her son says.
The 84-year-old Queenstowner died last on January 14 after a crash on Frankton Road.
Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to Noelene at a requiem mass at St Joseph’s Church in Queenstown last Saturday.
Son Richard, who told mourners to “keep smiling because Noelene would’ve wanted a celebration”, described a woman who lived life with joy, positivity and a love for people.
“Life was for living, nothing was bad, everything was OK, a lot of people had it much worse than us.
“She would ask herself ‘how can you make the world better for someone today?”‘
The Arrow Miners Band, of which she was one of the original members, performed at her service.
Member and long-time friend Peter Doyle tells Mountain Scene Noelene was a “very caring person” and an “amazing lady”.
“She loved Irish music, that was her big deal, and she used to go over to The Fork and Tap and play on a Wednesday night … she just loved it, she really got right into it.
“She was one of those people in our band who was always out the front – she was one of those people who loved people; she’d just wander off and talk to people while we were playing and I’d have to yell out to her ‘get back here! Come on, Noelene, let’s go’ and she’d say ‘oh! Yes, yes, yes’.”
A former theatre nurse at Kew Hospital – now Southland Hospital – in Invercargill, she moved to Queenstown 21 years ago after her late husband, Peter, died.
A woman with a wide range of hobbies and interests, she became heavily involved in the community and spent a huge amount of time entertaining residents at resthomes in Queenstown, either playing music for them, or playing cards with them.
Doyle: “She was a hard thing because although she was 84 she used to say ‘I’m going to go down and do something for the oldies’.
“She was probably bloody older than most of them there.”
Doyle says Noelene, who lived in Kelvin Heights, “probably could” read music, but didn’t need to.
“She knew it all and that really meant whatever tune we threw at her she just played it, not a problem.”
It was standing room only at her farewell on Saturday where daughter Margaret said Noelene was on her way back from the library in Queenstown at the time of the crash.
Among the books she had borrowed was In Loving Memory, an anthology of poems and prose dealing with grief.
Noelene had already started reading it because there was an envelope marking a page.
Margaret read a poem from that book during the service.
A 29-year-old male tourist, who’s been granted interim name suppression, has been charged with careless driving causing Noelene’s death, and careless driving causing injury to motorcyclist Glen Cherry, 47, of Central Otago, and his passenger, a 30-year-old female.
The maximum penalty for those charges is three months in jail, or a $4500 fine.
The tourist, whose address is listed as the Kawarau Hotel, is expected to appear in Queenstown’s court on Monday.
- GUY WILLIAMS and TRACEY ROXBURGH