Hundreds of mourners, including cabinet ministers and Samoan diplomats, crowded into an Auckland church yesterday to farewell the 24-year-old son of Labour MP Mark Gosche.
Onehunga's St Peter's Anglican Church was filled to bursting and mourners stood outside to hear tributes to Kristian Gosche, who took his own life earlier this week.
It is the second time in five years that former cabinet minister Mark Gosche has been touched by tragedy.
In 2002, his wife, Carol, was struck down by a life-threatening brain haemorrhage, leaving her disabled and in need of fulltime care.
Gosche resigned his portfolios of Housing, Pacific Island Affairs, Corrections and Racing the following year to take care of her.
The Maungakiekie MP touched hearts as he unloaded his wife's wheelchair himself and pushed her through sunshine beneath the flowering pohutukawa into the church.
The couple sat close together in the front row, Carol distressed as one mourner told the gathering how Kristian had gone down a "one-way street" during which he "took certain decisions and went ahead to take his own life...
with no malice towards anyone".
Mark Gosche remembered his son as "a beautiful wee child... Otahuhu born and bred", and a keen sportsman who had played for Otahuhu College's 1st XV.
"He was quiet and shy as he grew older. We have learned much more in the last few days that we didn't know. He was so quiet and didn't tell you much."
He said Kristian had "loved his mum absolutely".
"We have a long, hard climb ahead."
Kristian's sister, Jessica, said her brother's death would "leave a gaping hole in our family which will never be filled".
She said the past five years, since her mother's brain haemorrhage, had "hit everyone hard - especially Kristian".
He was remembered as a "handsome, gentle giant".
A message from Prime Minister Helen Clark was read to the congregation, in which she said she was "deeply saddened" to hear of Kristian's death.
After the service, prominent national and local government leaders mingled with Samoan women in floral dresses, fanning themselves in the heat. Kristian was taken to Manukau Gardens, Papatoetoe, for burial.
Kristian's aunt, Ella Gosche, was in shock at her nephew's death.
"My brother left a message for me on Thursday night to say Kris has died," Ella said. "I don't know what led up to his death. They had a private family service [Friday] and the funeral. He was a good boy."By Cliff Taylor, Rebecca Milne