Joanne Ingham, left, pictured with her sister Sarah.
Joanne Ingham’s son, who along with her sister Sarah conquered the nation after jumping into the sea from a Malaysian container ship, learned of his mother’s unexplained death at the motel on the news.
Shayden Ingham, 21, told the Herald about his mother’s battle with alcoholism and her efforts to cleanse herself.
Now living in Nelson with his 19-year-old brother Jamie, Shayden said he last spoke to his mother via Facebook and learned of her death on June 7 as soon as he read the news.
“I was shocked.”
Joanne Ingham was found dead at the Harbor City Motor Inn on Webb Street after police were called at about 2.40am. Police say the death is “unexplained”.
He lived in emergency accommodation for a long time and struggled with addiction, Shayden said.
She believed her life was derailed by the wave of publicity caused by her and Sarah after being boarded on a container ship in 1997 and then jumping into the sea and swimming in water contaminated by sharks and crocodiles off the coast of Queensland.
The couple spent two weeks in the desert surviving on shellfish and eventually moved to Malaysia, where they married and had children before returning to New Zealand.
Shayden said his mother had her demons, but did not choose a life without homelessness and addiction, and was just like any other person.
She had also struggled to come to terms with the loss of her children. Shayden said they have been living apart from their mother since 2008.
“That was very hard for her.”
Shayden last saw his mother alive a year ago when he visited her in Wellington, when he spent time caring for her as he had little money, providing cigarettes and food.
He said the family gave his mom a homework assignment at last week’s funeral at a Lyall Bay church.
“It was overwhelming but at the same time very beautiful.
“I think she would be very happy about that.”
Asked how he would remember Joan, he said: “Like my mom and that look in her eyes.”
Shayden said he was still in the dark about how his mother died, but was confident the police investigation would provide answers.
“All I know is that she was last with her partner and I’m sure the police are good enough to find out what happened.”
He said his mother tried to clean up and managed to get over her addition temporarily for several years, before falling back into bad habits.
“She started combining her life, but then some people would come back into her life.
“You know how hard it is when you get out of addiction to be tempted again with the same thing. You probably say to yourself, ‘I’ll only have a drink’ and before you know it you’re two years down, you buy Scrumpies with your money at Winz ».
Although Shayden had not seen his mother for a year, Sarah’s sister kept him informed.
She was in pain with the loss of her twin sister.
“It was always close, so it’s very sad for her. She’m sad. It ‘s still a little too new.”
The publicity surrounding his mother’s life was difficult to deal with and continued to emerge after her death.
“I did not think anyone would be interested because it was a long time ago what she did when she was famous, but they still mention it.”
Shayden’s younger brother was unable to attend the funeral as he was isolated with Covid and forced to attend the ceremony via Zoom.
Joanne had been cremated and the family had not yet decided what to do with her ashes.
Although still mourning, Syden and his younger brother were now burdened with their mother’s funeral expenses.
A Givealittle fundraising page has been set up for these expenses.
A Coronial Services spokeswoman said the issue was still ongoing and there was no further information.