The parents of Tayne Bowes, who drowned in a goldmine pond on Sunday, are "heartbroken" at their loss.
Tayne, 9, drowned after his father's Toyota Hilux flipped upside down in the waist-deep pond near Hokitika.
His 8-year-old sister, Keira, survived after spending nearly two hours in water in the submerged vehicle.
The children's parents, Mark and Katrina Bowes, released a statement today saying they were "devastated and heartbroken" at the loss of their son.
"Tayne was a bright and inquisitive young boy who enjoyed playing rugby and loved his sister dearly," they said.
Keira had been discharged from Grey Base Hospital and is at home with her parents.
"The family now wishes to focus on Keira's recovery and trying to come to terms with their enormous grief," the statement said.
"This is a stressful and difficult time for the family."
The parents said they appreciated the "incredible support" they have been given by their friends, family and the West Coast community.
The family will have a private funeral service for Tayne this week.
Tayne's body is expected to be returned to his family today following an autopsy.
Police said today investigators had completed their scene examination at the mine site.
Officers had hoped to interview Tayne's father today to establish the events leading to the accident, however that had been postponed until Wednesday.
The death of the "bubbly" boy has left the small community of Hokitika devastated.
Police had managed to save Keira, who was taken to Grey Base Hospital suffering from hypothermia after the accident.
Sergeant Russell Glue, of Hokitika, was first to the scene on Sunday and spotted the Hilux almost completely submerged in the pond.
He waded into the murky waist-deep water with Senior Sergeant Allyson Ealam to check the car, expecting both children would be drowned.
They smashed the rear window and were stunned to hear the girl call out for help.
"We didn't expect to hear that cry," Ealam said.
"I thought we were hearing things. Fortunately we weren't, and it was all on."
The girl was gasping and gulping for air, blue with cold after being submerged for so long, but Keira had managed to breathe in a small air pocket at the vehicle's rear, which was above water.
Glue pulled her out and quickly passed her to Ealam before continuing to search for her brother, desperately hoping he would follow her out, but he did not.
"I'll never forget her little face," Ealam said.
"It was like she had just woken up. She was shaking, wet and gasping."
Tayne's body was removed from the vehicle on Sunday night once it was lifted out of the pond, and his mother spent time with her son at the scene.
After watching the All Blacks win the World Cup, Tayne had been inspired to take up rugby. He had been selected for the West Coast under-10 representative team during his first year playing.
Tayne's grandfather, Murray Bowes, said his grandson was an outgoing boy.
"He was an all-round busy [boy]. He loved doing all sorts of things, but he really loved his sport. He was very good at rugby," he said.
Tayne's rugby coach, Kyle Parker, described him as a "really good kid" and a talented wing.
"He was outgoing and bubbly and well liked by all his team members," he said.
"He was a really fast, agile player and always keen to learn."
At the Kiwi Rugby Football Club breakup on Saturday night, Tayne was awarded the Sportsmanship Trophy.
Parker's wife, Caroline, said she and her husband were devastated by the tragedy.
"He was a gorgeous wee boy. It's very, very sad,'' she said.
"His mother told us the reason he started playing was seeing the All Blacks win the World Cup last year."
Tayne and Keira attended Hokitika Primary School.
Sonja Worthington, the chairwoman of the board of trustees, said the "school is very sad and it's a very difficult time for us".
"But we are a very close team and we have lots of people supporting us and our students, and our thoughts are with the family at this time," she said.
Police yesterday said it was unclear how the vehicle came to roll into the pond or whether the children's father had been in it at the time.
The children's father had taken them to the private Adair Rd goldmine, where he worked to refuel a pump.
After the accident, he initially ran toward his home but switched to a friend's place several kilometres away to alert emergency services.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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