New Zealand MH17 victim identified
Authorities have identified the body of the only New Zealand resident killed when a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine nearly a month ago.
Rob Ayley's Wellington-based parents, Jonn and Wendie Ayley, confirmed they had been told by the British consular manager that their 29-year-old son's body had been formally identified.
"At this stage, we are waiting to meet with staff from Malaysian Airlines to confirm travel plans to go to collect Rob and bring him home," his parents said in a statement.
"Obviously, we are grateful Rob has been positively identified and we feel for the families of those not yet identified as it is a very lonely time waiting for this process to be completed.
"Our hearts go out especially to families whose loved ones may not have made it to Amsterdam yet. Their nightmare may continue for months. Ours is coming to a close for this phase."
They planned to meet Rob Ayley's grandparents in the United Kingdom "to allow them to have closure over the death of their grandson".
They would return to New Zealand after a few weeks with Rob Ayley's body to prepare for his funeral, which would be a private family affair.
British-born Rob Ayley emigrated with his family to New Zealand when he was 2. He travelled on a British passport and lived in Otaki with his wife, Sharlene, and their two sons, Seth, 4, and Taylor, 2.
"We are in close contact with Sharlene but would appreciate it if she and our grandsons could be left in peace to grieve," the Ayleys said.
Rob Ayley had been flying home to New Zealand from Amsterdam on the MH17 flight after a month with another New Zealand dog breeder travelling around Europe looking at rottweilers, which they bred.
The plane was shot down on July 17 while en route to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board.
The family held a private memorial service for Rob Ayley at the St John's Anglican Church in Johnsonville on July 28.
Donations for his sons could be made to the Rob Ayley Trust through Westpac Porirua or online on their Givealittle fundraiser.
Mary Menke, the only New Zealander on board the doomed plane, lived in Mallacoota, about 500 kilometres east of Melbourne, Australia, but died alongside husband Gerry in the crash.
- The Dominion Post