Parents tie knot for Rose-Ana

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A year after losing their daughter in a devastating car crash, a Tauranga couple have married at her graveside. Kiri Gillespie reports.

Rain had fallen all day, but it stopped just as Jade and Tina Kingi became man and wife.

Rose-Ana Kingi had always wanted her mum and dad to marry.

This week, at a memorial service at Rose-Ana's gravesite in a Whakamaramara urupa, the Tauranga couple surprised those gathered by swapping rings and, with 20 years of love already in the bag, committing to a life together.

They did it for Rose-Ana - it was what she'd wanted.

Their eldest child was killed in a head-on collision near Lake Karapiro a year ago. She was 21.

On Monday, the anniversary of the crash which also claimed the life of Rose-Ana's friend Eruera Eriata Munroe, 22, Mr Kingi stood atop Tawhitinui Urupa, wrapped his arm around his bride, and wiped the tears from Mrs Kingi's cheeks.

They felt Rose-Ana standing with them.

"In a funny way she was there," Mrs Kingi said.

"I know that is where her body is but I guess, I'd like to imagine she was standing there right beside us."

British 18-year-old George Skofic pleaded guilty to five counts of careless driving causing injury or death. He was sentenced to 300 hours community work and disqualified from driving for two and a half years.

Mrs Kingi's voice quivered and she often paused as she recalled what was supposed to be the happiest day in a woman's life.

The bride did not wear white or walk down the isle. She and the groom arrived together. Rather than tears of happiness, the bride's cheeks were damp with raw grief.

"It was really hard. First and foremost, it was her memorial. We sort of incorporated it [the wedding] into it," Mrs Kingi said. "It was sad. It was not your normal happy time but it brought a few smiles to the memorial," Mrs Kingi said.

"[And] what better place ... to do it than up there with her. We just wouldn't do it without Rosy. It was hard but she would have been happy."

The sudden nuptuals surprised most friends and whanau gathered for the memorial. However, some guests in on the marriage plans had a surprise of their own. They produced a wedding cake iced in green, Rose-Ana's favourite colour.

Mrs Kingi said she was comforted to see the mother of Eruera Munro was also at Rose-Ana's memorial.

"We are not ready for an unveiling yet, to put that final headstone there. That's why it was a memorial."

A smile broke through Mr Kingi's strained voice as he said he still woke up and had to remind himself he was now formally a husband.

Mr Kingi said he stood strong for Mrs Kingi - "his girl" - on the day.

"Tears were all around. I didn't want to look up but you could just hear them," he said.

"It was sad but it was also nice, and you know that made it not so hard.

"It put something good, something positive on a sad day."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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