Heartbroken lover: 'I had found the perfect woman'
He had already picked out the solitaire diamond engagement ring he planned to offer his lover.
But Tani Hoyhtya never got to make his marriage proposal to Mei Fan. Before they could meet again, the mother of two young children was killed in her home in Miramar.
Almost a month after her death, no-one has been charged with the killing, to the dismay of Hoyhtya, a Finnish forester.
"It is like somebody pulled a carpet from under my feet," he said of life without her.
"It is like I am standing on nothing.
"She just wanted to have a long, happy, healthy life. That was all she wanted."
Hoyhtya, a United Nations worker based in Vietnam, met Fan, 37, in southern China, and they began a relationship in March 2011.
Soon after she followed her estranged husband back to New Zealand to be closer to their children. However, the lovers continued a long-distance courtship that took them around the globe - to Norway, Sweden, Vietnam and to New Zealand.
"If I can describe somehow those two years with Mei, almost three, they were the best years of my whole life," he said.
"She was for me like a match made in heaven. I had stopped searching - I didn't want to search any more because I had found the perfect woman.
"I was so happy with her, anywhere, in Finland, travelling in Norway and Sweden with my children... always I felt like home with her wherever I went, I felt full, peaceful, complete. And now I don't have this home any more.
"If you use your full brain capacity for the next 100 years, you cannot find words to describe the hell I have been going through."
It was Hoyhtya who had raised the alarm that led to Fan being found dead in her home in Brussels St on November 10.
The pair spoke every day and, after an unusual lapse in contact, he called New Zealand police from Vietnam and filed a missing persons report. Then, desperate for news, he asked their friends in Wellington to visit her home, where they found her body.
Instead of flying in for a marriage proposal, he came to Wellington for her funeral on Monday.
The engagement ring intended for her has been made into an earring, which he will wear in her memory. He plans to return to New Zealand to testify if Fan's killer faces trial, and said he had been overwhelmed by the help he had received from police and Victim Support.
Cindy Dalziel, a friend of the couple, said: "She loved him very much. She said he was the only one she probably really loved, that she felt great and cared for, and she could be herself. Then, what was it that she said? That they were 'a match made in heaven'."
The hunt for Fan's killer continues. Last week police withdrew a charge against a man who admitted contacting her shortly before her death in breach of a protection order. Police said there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution to go ahead.
They continue to appeal for sightings of Fan's red 2005 Honda Fit hatchback, registration GSL128, on the day of her killing - thought to be November 8, two days before her body was found.
- © Fairfax NZ News