An award-winning pet lamb has died after a youth repeatedly kicked it while it was tied to a fence during a school calf club day.
The lamb, named Crystal, is believed to have died from internal injuries.
Owner Sarah Ensor said her 8-year-old daughter, Ella, saw a youth kicking the award-winning lamb last Friday at the Oropi School Calf Club. Crystal had been tied to a fence and unable to get escape.
Ella, 8, asked the youth to stop and he fled.
The upset family took Crystal home and noticed she was "maa-ing" differently, so Ella checked on the 10-week-old, which had been with the family since it was 4-days-old.
"She started screaming and calling me and crying," Ms Ensor said.
The lamb died soon after at the family's home.
The family believed it died from internal injuries caused by the kicks.
"She must of been in so much pain, she was only a baby. She was more than a sheep she was part of the family, everyone loved her. It's very upsetting."
"I don't hold the school responsible, they're absolutely gutted," Ms Ensor said.
Oropi School principal Andrew King read the Bay of Plenty Times a written statement, which included the following points:
"It is unfortunate I have to make a request to the community about a possible incident occurring towards the end of calf club day.
"Ella Ensor's lamb very sadly died suddenly shortly after Calf Club day. This is a very devastating situation for the family to have gone through and on behalf of the school I wish to pass on our condolences, particularly as the lamb had won the competition and Ella was going on to represent Oropi School.
"It is possible this lamb has died as result of trauma, the school has proactively made contact with a number of experts but no confirmed information is conclusive."
"The school would like to know if anyone noticed any unusual behaviour from a person during the day. If anyone has any information, make direct contact with the principal."
Farmer Brent Bishop, who knows the family, was sent a photo of the lamb's injuries.
"There was a lot of internal bleeding, probably from the liver. The whole bowel was filled with blood, the kidney was split and damaged and also inside the stomach, the muscle was all bruised and bloody."