Whanau, friends and total strangers united in grief at a memorial service in Melbourne today for slain mother of three Sharnee Ngatai, who will soon return to her spiritual home in Taranaki.
The 23-year-old, who was allegedly murdered by her partner during a domestic dispute early on January 11, was farewelled by the Australia-based members of her family at the Altona Memorial Park in North Melbourne.
Funds continue to be raised to repatriate her remains.
"Such a touching beautiful farewell it was," Herani Smith wrote on a memorial page for Ngatai on Facebook.
"RIP beautiful Sharnee and shine bright like a diamond girl."
Although she did not know Australian-born Ngatai, Smith said she was compelled to attend.
"I often saw her in our local supermarket with her babies so we felt like we needed to go pay our respect and show our support to all the whanau."
Cilla Moke regretted losing touch with Ngatai three years ago when she was pregnant and experiencing difficulties with her relationship.
"She was meant to stay with us ... but I missed her call and she never came," Moke said.
"I didn't know her but I wish things could have been different for her. She was too young to die," Moke wrote on the memorial page.
Ngatai died in a Melbourne hospital of unspecified injuries after paramedics were summoned to the home she shared with Tauranga-born Steve Cook.
The 22-year-old, who is the father of two of Ngatai's children, was arrested and charged with her murder.
He was remanded in custody after a brief appearance in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and is scheduled to reappear on May 5.
Ngatai's father, Dion Kahukaka, set up a Facebook page to raise funds to bring his daughter back to Opunake. It has raised about $3500 while another online appeal has collected about $4500.
It is hoped Ngatai's remains will arrive in New Zealand by the end of the month so a tangi can be held at the Orimupiko Marae.
- © Fairfax NZ News