Mourners farewell Jacinda Baker
Mourners have farewelled Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, killed in action in Afghanistan 10 days ago.
About 300 people, including a large army contingent, packed St John's Anglican Church in Rangiora to celebrate the life of the 26-year-old Christchurch soldier, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Bamiyan along with Corporal Luke Tamatea and Private Richard Harris.
Family spoke of a ''cute little redhead'' who grew into a caring, loyal and organised woman with a bright smile, contagious laugh and a fantastic sense of humour.
''She was living proof that girls can do anything,'' her grandmother said.
School friends shared stories of riding ponies in Rangiora, where she attended Rangiora New Life School, tramping trips up Mt Thomas or runs around Hagley Park.
Baker's father, Peter, paid tribute to his daughter as having a ''short but very powerful and influential life''.
''She has affected a lot of people. It's been an honour and privilege to know her. We will never forget you,'' he said.
Her partner, Geoff Fosbender, said he was ''not ready to say goodbye''.
''We were supposed to have so many more memories,'' he said.
''It's been taken from me too soon.''
The couple planned to move to Waiouru next year, get married and have a family.
Fosbender spoke of having ''a schoolboy'' crush on Baker after meeting her in the army.
It took some ''nudges'' from her friends before he worked up the courage to ask her out, and she became his rock.
''She was a beautiful and vibrant girl with a spark in her eye that was amazing and the most beautiful smile ... loving and caring,'' he said.
''I didn't realise until now how much I needed her in my life. I love you so much, Jacinda. Please look over us.''
- © Fairfax NZ News