Love and lyrics for loving girl
The words "love you" were written in bold, pink letters on posters hung around the hall.
It was a phrase 12-year-old Abi Hone often expressed to her family.
The former Sumner Primary School pupil was yesterday farewelled by hundreds of mourners, who packed the school's hall and an adjoining marquee erected to cater for the crowd.
Abi was killed along with her best friend, Ella Summerfield, 12, and Ella's mother, Sally Rumble, when Dutch tourist Johannes Jacobus Appelman, 52, allegedly ran a stop sign while driving near Rakaia on May 31.
More than 2000 friends, relatives and school children packed the school hall and marquee, with speakers relaying the service to those outside the hall.
Press reporters did not attend the service at the request of the family. But afterwards a family spokesman Darren Wright said it was led by Reverend James Ullrich, a Hone family friend, and centred around a musical theme.
Abi's brother, Paddy, stood in for her sister in the band she had created, Wright said, singing at least three songs.
He also sung as part of his own band, and at least four other musical groups contributed to the service.
Her other brother, Ed, gave an "incredible" speech, as did father Trevor, Wright said. Hundreds of balloons decorated the hall, along with numerous "love you" signs0 and a slideshow of pictures of the "fun-loving, extroverted 12-year-old girl".
"Abi always used to say ‘I love you' and ‘love you' every time they left the room and every time they did everything," Wright said.
References were made to Ella and Rumble throughout the service, Wright said.
He declined to comment on the condition of Shane Summerfield, Ella's father and Sally's husband, who was driving the car and is now in Christchurch Hospital recovering.
The Hone family were "looking for the silver linings in everything", but were dealing with the tragedy with the help of the community, who had "wrapped their arms around them".
The huge turnout "just goes to show the breadth of hurt that's been felt across the city".
At the end of the service, a group of children braved the rain and gathered on the school field with handfuls of pink and yellow balloons, counting down before releasing them into the sky.
"As much as it can be, I think it was just a celebration of her life.
"She loved music so much and that came out today and they continued with that theme of playing the music and doing the sorts of things that she loved," he said.
The funeral for Ella and Rumble will be held in the same venue on Thursday.