'They will be in my heart forever, and ever'
They were caring and loving- their deaths ignited amazing love and kindness from the community.
Yesterday around 500 mourners farewelled siblings Bradley and Ellen Livingstone on a bright but breezy Dunedin day.
"The one thing I can say about this community is that, in this community, you'll never be alone," Jo Wilson, principal of St Leonard's School which the pair attended, said at the service.
"Someone's always going to have your back and looking out for you."
Nine year old Bradley and Six year-old Ellen had their own distinctive personalities but shared a sense of humour and winning smiles.
Bradley was passionate about food and cooking. Just a couple of weeks ago he was helping to plan a barbeque at the school holiday programme he was on, recommending a great recipe for gourmet burgers.
Like most boys his age he loved playing X-Box and PlayStation and he was mechanically minded.
He was finding his place in life, building in confidence, and he looked out for his little sister.
Ellen called herself an artist-girl, often drawing and painting gifts for others. Colour and uniqueness in her way-out fashion sense, her wildly- ribboned hair, her brilliant blue eyes and her rosy red smile, set her apart.
Both children loved animals, music and singing. They had a special bond.
The children's death a week and-a half ago, shot by their father Edward Livingstone as they slept in the St Leonard's home they shared with their mother, Katherine Webb, shocked the tiny St Leonards community and the city of Dunedin.
Family, teachers, classmates, and club-mates, and friends filled St Georges Hall and a large marquee next St Leonards School for yesterday's service.
The flag in the school grounds flapped furiously at half- mast in gusty conditions yesterday and coloured tags adorned periphery fences reflecting the children's involvement in orienteering and their love of colour.
The Order of Service sheet was titled "A celebration of the lives of Bradley and Ellen Livingstone" and decorated with their own colourful drawings. Their favourite songs were played across a loudspeaker throughout the hall and the playground. Bradley' s was Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy, Ellen's What Makes You Beautiful by boy-band One Direction.
The siblings' mother Katharine Webb said when she got pregnant with Bradley at the age of 39 she thought she wouldn't be the type of mother who would talk about her child all the time.
"How wrong I was. I've done nothing but. He was the best thing that ever happened to me."
The family always thought Bradley would end up being a chef because of his love of food, she said.
He had his own sense of style and his "beautiful thick hair" up in all directions.
While Bradley had been slow to meet baby milestones in his own time, Ellen had been the opposite.
"She walked and talked early. The word 'no' became big part of her vocabulary," Webb said.
"She developed her own dress sense and I let her go with it. She had to wear the clothes not me. I said to the teachers once, 'you know Ellen dresses herself?' And, yes, they were aware of that."
Webb said her children had "a great bond". They played together very well but also knew how to wind each other up.
"We did a lot together, camping and orienteering...which was great fun.
"My beautiful children who were caring, loving. They were my life and still are. I loved them and love them like no other and they will be in my heart forever, and ever, and ever. "
Jo Wilson, Principal of St Leonards School which the children attended said no words were adequate to describe the loss.
"All we can do is share our best memories."
Tributes were made by grandparents Vic and Val Webb, teachers and after school carers, and Bradley's friend Tane sang a song he composed himself.
Out of sight of the media, Bradley's and Ellen's caskets were led out of the service by an entourage of St Leonard's School pupils.
Katherine Webb then tucked her babies into a shining white hearse, tucked them in for the last time, and they silently slipped away from mourners and out of the school gates.
- © Fairfax NZ News