'Our grief is we've lost Rob'
Russia is coming under increasing pressure to allow investigators proper access to the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine - but the politics surrounding the tragedy are of no concern to Tawa mum Wendie Ayley, whose son Rob was among the 298 killed.
"That's not our grief, our grief is that we've lost Rob," she said.
"The big picture doesn't worry me - none of that is important."
Rob Ayley, 29, of Otaki, was heading home after a month-long trip around Europe, visiting fellow rottweiler breeders.
"He's driven 10,000km on the wrong side of the road and he stayed safe. Then he got on a plane," his mother said.
Wife Sharlene, with whom Rob had two young sons, aged 4 and 2, described him on Facebook as "our everything".
"We adored him and there was no-one else like him. He touched so many hearts and lives. We are grateful to forever have him in our hearts."
Wendie Ayley, a hospice worker, and husband Jonn emigrated from Britain when Rob was aged only 2. Though a New Zealand resident since then, he was travelling on a British passport.
His family said they had heard nothing from authorities about the recovery of his body, and realised a funeral could be many weeks away.
"We'll sit down tomorrow and work out what we want to do in terms of a memorial service," his mother said.
They were in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the British high commission and Malaysia Airlines.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday joined political leaders from around the world in calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to "show leadership" and call for separatist rebels - who are suspected of having fired the missile that brought down the Boeing 777 - to pull back from the crash site.
Key said he was "deeply concerned" that there was not enough access being granted for a thorough investigation.
There have been reports of evidence being moved and of looters sifting through victims' belongings. Some bodies have been removed, while others have been left lying in the fields, and it is still not certain what has happened to the plane's black box flight recorders.
"You've got the site being tampered with," Key said at a press conference in Auckland.
He said of Putin: "He now needs to stand up and tell the rebels to back off to ensure that there's access - and a full corridor of access - so that all information can be gathered."
A former Queenstown restaurateur killed on the flight was on his honeymoon.
Benoit Chardome, originally from Belgium, spent several years in Queenstown, where he owned two restaurants.
His husband was not on the flight, as Chardome had left on urgent business, former business partner Franck Sivignon said. He described Chardome as "a real friend - he was a genuine friend".
Mary Menke, a New Zealander living in Mallacoota, about 500km east of Melbourne, died alongside husband Gerry.
The couple, who ran an abalone pearl company, were returning home from their annual European holiday on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Huub Kerckhoffs, a lecturer at Massey University in Palmerston North, lost his Dutch aunt and uncle in the disaster.
His mother's sister, Toos Ruyter, and husband Guust Moors were travelling to see their son in Kuala Lumpur.
"Everyone knows them," Kerckhoffs said. "I was talking to another uncle. You drive past the house and there are no lights. You can really feel the loss."
Two of the dead were stalwart Newcastle United football fans, flying to New Zealand to watch their team's pre-season tour, which culminates in Wellington on Saturday.
The Dominion Post