Hundreds gather to remember Christchurch 15-year-old Emily White
Students hugged and wiped away tears as they farewelled a classmate with the "heart of a lion".
Despite prayers from her family, church and school communities, 15-year-old Emily White died in Christchurch Hospital on June 29 after suffering a severe allergic reaction.
The auditorium at La Vida Centre in Upper Riccarton overflowed as more than 500 friends and family gathered on Thursday to remember a life cut short.
Middleton Grange School's kapa haka group, which Emily was a member of, performed at the start of the funeral service.
Emily's white coffin was at the front of the room, adorned with flowers.
"I absolutely loved being Emily's mum," Jacqui White said.
"It seems way too soon, 15 years is just not enough."
She recalled her daughter's love of super heroes, always requesting she made her capes, and her love of lions.
"She really did have the heart of a lion. Because of her health she had faced death many times – that's quite a lot for a young person."
Rory White recalled the emotion of taking his daughter home from Christchurch Hospital 15 years ago, compared to "a very different set of memories" as they left the hospital last week.
"We were as a family in the hospital in the intensive care unit, the doctors and nurses had done everything they could to keep Emily with us.
"Emily fought like crazy to stay with us, but it got to the point where Emily was no longer with us and we had to say our goodbyes," he said.
The family was determined not to let recent sad memories cloud past happiness.
Emily's two older sisters, Adelaide and Nevie, shared memories. Adelaide said farewelling a younger sibling felt "just so wrong".
Pastor Phil Godsiff previously boarded with the Whites – one of many who shared a life and a roof with the Christian family.
"As hard as it is to face the facts that Emily is no longer with us, face those facts we must," Godsiff said.
"If the sheer amount of prayer taking place was going to determine Emily's recovery, she would be well," he said.
Holding hands, tearful students formed a guard of honour as Emily's coffin was carried from the auditorium, her family briefly touching the casket before it was driven away.