Mum's tribute to 'bubbly' teen
There is a saying that no parent should have to bury a child.
A month ago, Matamata woman Wendy Clothier had to do just that.
Her 17-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was the passenger in a car that collided with an oncoming vehicle on the Kaimai Range.
Ms Clothier and her eldest daughter, Crystal, spoke to express their love for a lost daughter and sister.
Ms Clothier said she also wanted to set the story straight and to dispel some rumours she'd heard. A Facebook page, set up to remember Jasmine, has hundreds of messages, photos and videos from friends, family and even those who didn't know the teenager.
"A lot of them are the same, that she was a bubbly, friendly person. She did love everyone and unfortunately trusted everyone, but she saw the good in everyone. Everyone has said similar things," Ms Clothier said.
With Jasmine's 18th birthday approaching, Ms Clothier said her daughter had been thinking about what she was going to do next year after school.
She said Jasmine's interests were around photography and "selfies". Her favourite subject at school was media studies. She also had a love of dance. "She was a member of the Aspire Dance Academy. She loved her dancing and she had a good group of friends there."
Next year Jasmine was looking at going on an adventure with her cousins, working for a while and then heading off overseas.
The loss of such a bubbly young woman has left a huge hole in the Clothier family. "It was obviously one of those moments you never want to happen."
Ms Clothier said the driver, who had only been in Matamata a short time and was a new friend of Jasmine's, had told her and Jasmine that he was a fully licensed driver.
"He seemed like a decent enough kid. Obviously after the accident we found out he never, ever had had a licence and was forbidden to drive."
He has since left town. Police continue to investigate the accident and it will be some time before it is known if charges will be laid. This fact has been difficult for the family to come to terms with.
Ms Clothier said the driver and Jasmine were at the Clothier's home before setting off for the movies on the day of the accident. "He told me that he had a full licence. They left my place with him driving, it was just a Saturday afternoon, they were just going to the movies. I assumed they were going to Hamilton, I didn't realise they were going to Tauranga."
Jasmine had never been to Tauranga before without her family.
Ms Clothier admits that things will never be the same now, but she and Crystal are keeping each other strong.
Crystal, who was studying in Dunedin, has put her studies on hold and has returned to Matamata.
The family wanted to thank the community for all they have done. "We've been overwhelmed with kindness from everyone. We've had so many flowers and cards and I've got quite a close support team that have been there 24/7 for me.
"It is nice to be a part of a small town at a time like that," Ms Clothier said.
For those who haven't experienced the grief of losing a child, it's hard to offer support. "There's not much you can do or say, but there's been lots of baking."
Ms Clothier said her beloved daughter's farewell, her funeral, was perfect. "She would've loved it. It was fitting and a celebration of her life. It was really nice."
Jasmine worked part-time at Warehouse Stationery and the company had been "awesome". Ms Clothier said a customer of Jasmine's had wanted to do something special to celebrate Jasmine's life. Matamata College students helped, but the customer organised, paid for and set up and released 500 purple balloons at the cemetery. Ms Clothier said it was a fitting tribute for a young girl who would have gone on to amazing things.