A man killed in a boating accident in the Tararua Range in New Zealand on Sunday has been identified as Mike Hopkins, an Oscar winning Hollywood sound editor.


Hopkins, who hailed from Greytown, died when his small inflatable vessel capsized on the Waiohine River in Tararua at around 3pm on Saturday afternoon .He was 52. It is thought that a flash flood on the river on New Zealand’s North Island caused the accident. Hopkins was on board the boat with two other people, who both survived the accident, but police are investigating the incident further. All three of the passengers on the vessel were wearing life jackets and helmets, said police sergeant Carolyn Watson.

A rescue helicopter crew was called to the scene after the accident occurred, and commenced a search and rescue mission to find the three boat passengers. Hopkins’ body was found in the water downstream from the two survivors, a man and a woman. Rescuers attempted to perform CPR on Hopkins, but resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

The second man who was travelling with Hopkins was thrown off the boat when it capsized, and was able to swim to the shore. The woman companion, later discovered to be Hopkins’ wife Nicci, was found upstream from the boat by a crew on a speed boat two hours after the accident occurred, clinging to a small ledge in a narrow section of the river. She was rescued by Bruce Slater, a river contractor, and his son in their small speed boat after larger rescue vessels were unable to access the narrow ledge.

Hopkins was a renowned sound designer who worked on many big budget films with director Sir Peter Jackson. He first worked with Jackson on the 1992 comedy horror, Brain Dead, and continued to work on Jackson’s films for the next 20 years. Hopkins worked on the sound for Jackson’s King Kong, Heavenly Creatures and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, winning two Oscars – one for The Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers in 2003, and one for King Kong in 2006, together with his partner in sound, Ethan Van der Ryn.

Hopkins was a modest winner, saying that he did not seek fortune and awards but it was also a good feeling to be acknowledged for his work. Jackson was quoted in the New Zealand Herald newspaper as saying that Hopkins was truly talents and will be greatly missed by all the film community.


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