Blessie sought safety in NZ: husband
The light of his life has gone and his family has been robbed of the best mother and grandmother, the husband of slain Auckland woman Blesilda "Blessie" Gotingco says.
Antonio Gotingco said the family had moved to New Zealand from the Philippines because they thought it was "the safest place to live".
Her death had shaken that belief, but he was heartened by the sympathy and prayers New Zealanders had offered his family as they grieved, he said.
Antonio Gotingco has a strong religious faith and said everything happened for a reason.
"I believe my wife is an instrument to awaken the whole country that the environment is changing and that we need to start making an effort to protect our neighbours," he said.
A 27-year-old man appeared in the North Shore District Court today charged with Gotingco's murder. Judge Pippa Sinclair granted him interim name suppression for fair-trial considerations.
No bail application was made and he was remanded in custody. He will next appear in the High Court on June 18.
Blessie Gotingco, 56, went missing on Saturday night after catching a bus home from her work in the centre of Auckland. Her body was found in Eskdale Cemetery in Birkdale.
Antonio Gotingco returned to New Zealand from a business trip yesterday to be with their three children.
"I was away for two months and hadn't seen her," he said.
"The last time I spoke to her was on Thursday last week and she was asking when I was returning to the country."
Antonio and Blessie Gotingco had been married for 30 years.
"We were sweethearts for 4-1/2 years before that and neighbours back in the Philippines. We knew each other at primary school.
"She was two years older than me but looked 10 years younger than me. She had just celebrated her 56th birthday on May 20," he said.
He has been touched by the overwhelming concern not only for his wife but for his family's welfare.
"I also want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of the New Zealand police - they are the world's best. They were constantly updating us and concerned for our safety."
The outpouring of love and support had softened the family's hearts.
"She's a very private person so we are going to grieve in private. We are waiting for the body to be released but it will just be her family who view her."
Blessie Gotingco's body would be cremated along with her picture and laid to rest at the family's church, St Mary's Catholic Church in Northcote, he said.
"She wanted to be remembered alive and not inside a coffin.
"I want the whole public to know my wife was a good person. She was a good wife, good mother, good grandmother and good friend."
If there was a stronger word than distraught then that would be how he would describe the way he was feeling, he said.
Blessie had been looking forward to celebrating the first birthday of her only grandchild next month.
His wife was a jovial person who brought laughter with her wherever she went.
"She was always smiling and had an infectious smile. She's the best there is."
His heart was broken, he said.
He had told his children that their mother would have wanted them to be strong.
"She would have wanted us to be brave but really we don't know where to go from here. We are in darkness."
His family were ordinary people who would like to grieve in private, but he wanted to thank the whole of New Zealand for their outpouring of love and generosity.