Anthony Mulder - a gentle giant
Anthony Mulder was a "gentle giant" who dreamt of becoming a chef until he was killed in last week’s canyoning tragedy with five fellow Elim Christian College students and his teacher.
Hundreds of wellwishers joined his family and friends on Tuesday at the Elim Christian Centre to give thanks for "our Ant", the Howick 16-year-old who loved to cook, to play the drums and who poured his heart into helping children.
Miriam Mulder said her son always wanted to serve others, especially by helping and mentoring children.
He spent every holiday with various children’s groups.
"We had to work our family holidays around his holiday programme," she said.
Addressing the boys Ant had mentored, Mrs Mulder said her son’s hope was that they would love God and become great kids.
Ant’s willing heart meant if anything needed doing, "our gentle giant would be there doing it", said his father John Mulder.
He was a quiet, patient and contented boy, who could spend hours happily building Lego, reading books or pottering around in the garage.
Ant also loved volleyball and basketball, and everything outdoors, especially fishing.
Mum’s kitchen was his favourite place and from the time he could walk, Ant was always in there "banging those pots with glee".
Later he took up the drums and began using the pots for their original purpose, becoming an accomplished cook.
Ant hated maths and science, said his friend Isaac Cho.
After classes ended last year, Ant tore his science book apart and "fired it out of his spud gun", plastering pages over neighbouring roofs, fences, gardens and swimming pools.
To the biggest laugh of the service, Isaac reassured Elim’s science teachers that Ant was glad to have taken science because otherwise he wouldn’t have had anything to fire out of his spud gun.
Kish Proctor and Sarah Brooks, two of the survivors from the canyoning group, said Ant was an inspiration for his selfless, loving nature and steadfast belief in God.
Fellow Elim youth leader and Pakuranga College student Jessica Hancock described him as a "humble, patient, peaceful, generous and loving guy who has changed so many lives".
Speaking after the memorial service, Ant’s friends said healing moments had been time spent in his bedroom and talking about the good times they shared with him.
Kish said Ant was voted group leader while at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoors Pursuits Centre because he was a seasoned tramper and led by example.
"He stood in the middle of the current and helped all of us across it," he said.
Isaac recalled the surprise birthday party Ant threw for him and the encouragement he gave him on a six-hour tramping trip.
He always thought about others before himself, said Jessica.
"It is only a little chapter in their lives that has ended, but their story will continue to be written in heaven," she said.