'They will be in my heart forever, and ever'
Bradley and Ellen Livingstone loved life, but yesterday around 500 mourners farewelled them on a bright, breezy Dunedin day.
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 barbecue at the school holiday programme he was attending, recommending a great recipe for gourmet burgers.
Like most boys his age, he loved playing Xbox 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. Her original, way-out fashion sense, her wildly-ribboned hair, brilliant blue eyes and rosy red smile set her apart.
Both children loved animals, music and singing. They had a special bond.
The children were shot by their father Edward Livingstone 10 days ago as they slept in the home they shared with their mother, Katharine Webb.
The deaths shocked the St Leonards community and the city of Dunedin.
Family, teachers, classmates and friends filled St Georges Hall and a large marquee next to St Leonards School, where they were pupils, for the service.
The flag in the school grounds flapped at half-mast and coloured tags adorned the fences, reflecting the children's involvement in orienteering.
The order of service was decorated with their own drawings. Their favourite songs were played across a loudspeaker. Bradley' s was Glen Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy, Ellen's was You Don't Know You're Beautiful by One Direction.
Katharine Webb said that 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 "beautiful thick hair" sticking up in all directions.
Ellen was quick to reach baby milestones.
"She walked and talked early. The word ‘no' became a 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 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 said no words could 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 had compose.
Out of sight of the media, an escort of St Leonards School pupils led the caskets out of the service.
Katharine Webb then placed 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.
Sunday Star Times