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Multi-talented cyclist farewelled on memorial rides

Flagstaff Team

Paying respects… Bike Auckland supporters gathered at the Devonport ferry terminal to ride to the crash scene on 14 March, a day after a tribute by North Harbour triathletes, each attracting 50-plus riders.

The cyclist killed in a collision with a truck on Lake Rd, Belmont, was farewelled at North Harbour Stadium last week, following two big memorial rides on the peninsula.

Warrick Jones, a married father of three, was a keen cyclist and triathlete. His communities were determined to publicly mark a death that shook many. Bike Auckland described it as “needless” and further proof roads needed to be made safer for cyclists.

Friends remembered Jones as a multi-talented man. Rubin Levin of Devonport, who knew him for decades, said Jones had jammed a huge amount into his 50 years. “He was a remarkable athlete, but more than that he was a great father and a wonderful man.”

Multi-faceted Jones lived in Torbay and worked as a flight attendant for Air New Zealand. He was involved in hospitality in the 1990s, including Fever bar in Takapuna where he gave many DJs a venue.

He died on Tuesday 9 March, just after 1pm, on a downhill stretch of Lake Rd at its corner with Montgomery Ave. Police investigations into the collision continue.

Bunches of flowers were left at the scene, with their numbers steadily growing to many dozens over the days immediately after the incident.

Many members of the North Harbour Triathlon Club, to which he belonged, visited the site early the following Saturday morning to pay their respects. Club president Alex Waite described Jones as a “great friend and fierce competitor”.

He took part in various competitions, including last year’s Ironman New Zealand event, recording a sub-11 hour time. A sign bearing his race number, #420, was tacked onto a fence behind a post covered in flowers and messages.

Tributes… A sign bearing Warrick Jones’s Ironman NZ number and flowers left at Montgomery Ave

The next morning, Bike Auckland, with Jones’s family’s blessing, rallied more than 50 cyclists at Devonport Wharf to follow a back- route to the scene of the accident. Among them was Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member, Toni Van Tonder, and the bike lobby group and charity’s chair Barb Cuthbert.

After a karakia by Ngahiwi Walker, the manager of the Navy Marae Te Taua Moana and himself a cyclist, Levin spoke of his Air New Zealand colleague and family friend.

“He was good on a bike, but when it came to swimming he was crap,” Levin recalled. Running was Jones’s strongest suit. He was using downtime from work to train towards a goal of qualifying for the Kona Ironman in Hawaii.

Levin said that once Jones moved on from music he took to the air, first with Air Nelson then Air New Zealand, flying internationally. “He quickly rose to a leadership position because he was special.” Crew were always pleased to see his name on the roster and to work with him.

Cuthbert introduced the reading of two poems, with a waiata finishing the remembrance as cars whizzed past on Lake Rd and cyclists lingered.

Others to remember Jones included leading DJ Greg Churchill, who described him as a “wonderful guy.” Jones was credited with giving many in the business a start. Members of the ‘Lost Nightlife of Inner City Auckland’ online group recalled Jones’s days as a bartender in Ponsonby and the city, including at Prego and Dreschlers, before he helped create a night scene in Takapuna in the late 1990s.

A police spokesman said Jones had died at the scene. An ambulance and a number of police vehicles, including the Serious Crash Unit, attended. A section of Lake Rd was blocked to traffic for several hours, with traffic diverted along side streets.

Jones is survived by his wife, Sara, two sons aged 21 and 16, and a daughter, 11.

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