Nine-year-old Tayne Bowes was supposed to be playing in the West Coast under-10s rep rugby team this weekend.
Instead, the West Coast boy will be farewelled at a funeral this week.
His family say they are devastated and heartbroken over the death of their eldest child. Tayne drowned when his father's four-wheel-drive plunged upside-down into a pond on Sunday night. His eight-year-old sister Keira was pulled alive from the vehicle after spending two hours breathing from an airpocket in the submerged vehicle.
The children's parents, Mark and Katrina Bowes, spoke out today over their grief at losing their son.
"Tayne was a bright and inquisitive young boy, who enjoyed playing rugby and loved his sister dearly," the couple in a statement.
Keira, who was taken to hospital with hypothermia, was still recovering at home today.
Police have completed an investigation at the scene - a slurry pond at a Ruatapa mining site near Hokitika - and will interview Mr Bowes tomorrow as they try to determine how his Toyota Hilux ended up in the pond and whether he was in the vehicle at the time.
Tayne's Kiwi Rugby Football Club coach Kyle Parker described the nine-year-old as a natural talent who had been inspired to play after the All Blacks' World Cup win last year.
"This was the first season that he played and he was on the wing. Everyone liked him [and] he was quite fast and agile."
Mr Parker said Tayne was awarded the team's sportsmanship prize for the season and was looking forward to the next year's season.
"He was as keen as to play next year - he told us on Saturday."
Keira and Tayne attended Hokitika Primary School and board of trustees chairwoman Sonja Worthington said today the school was "doing okay".
Education Ministry trauma teams would stay as long as they needed to, she said.
Tayne's body is expected to be returned to the Bowes after a post-mortem examination and a funeral will be held later this week.
- APNZBy Teuila Fuatai Email Teuila, Viv Logie