30 Dec 2009

River death victim was journalist Helen Bain

5:57 pm on 30 December 2009

The woman who died while crossing the swollen Ruamahanga River on horseback has been named as former journalist Helen Bain.

Ms Bain, formerly political editor of the Sunday Star Times, had more recently worked as communications manager for Forest & Bird.

Forest & Bird general manager Mike Britton says Ms Bain was a good journalist who had worked in the political scene, knew just about everybody and had great political skills as an advocate.

Former Sunday Star Times editor Cate Brett says the newspaper was fortunate to be able to hire her in 2004, when Ms Bain was working for former Labour MP John Tamihere.

"What impressed me about Helen was her steeliness. She was a very hard nosed and no nonsense political reporter who understood how the system worked."

Despite having networks of powerful people, Ms Bain remained unaffected by the pomp of it all, Ms Brett says.

Ms Bain, 38, was horseriding with a friend at about 2pm on Tuesday near the Ruamahanga River, in the Matapihi Rd area about 5km north of Masterton.

The river was flooded and dirty from rain in the nearby Tararua Ranges and police say she and her horse fell into the river while trying to cross it.

Her riding companion tried to help, then sought help from another friend nearby.

Ms Bain was eventually found downstream and taken to an island where, despite CPR being performed, she could not be resuscitated.