The mother of two children critically burned in a car fire in Gisborne will always be in debt to the men who saved her children's lives.
Three-year-old Manaia and two-year-old Rious Namana-Rowe were in the back seat outside SuperCheap Autos in early April when one of the children played with a lighter left in the car.
Five men combined their efforts to rescue the youngsters from the car and successfully resuscitate them once they had been removed to safety.
The children spent time in the burns unit at Middlemore Hospital, then were transferred back to Waikato Hospital, from where they were discharged just over two weeks ago.
Their mother, 23-year-old Ruth Namana, now offers special thanks to those five men.
"I will be forever in debt to you,'' she said.
Ms Namana thanks every business and person who have helped her and the children, with special thanks to her whanau.
"People have run raffles to raise money to help us, and given us vouchers to help meet our costs. We really appreciate it.''
Her mum Alison had been wonderful, she said.
"She was with me and the children all the way through their stay in hospital.''
Manaia had five skin graft operations and Rious had three during the three months they were in hospital.
"I am quite surprised at the way they have come through it physically. They have recovered well from the burns they suffered,'' Ms Namana said.
Both children coped well with being in hospital for such a long time, Ms Namana said.
"Manaia has found it tougher since she came out of hospital, because she can't play with other children like she used to yet.''
Manaia suffered burns to 40 per cent of her body, and Rious 20 per cent.
Ms Namana vividly recalls the moment she came out of the auto store and saw her car was on fire.
"My legs felt like jelly. I can't describe how shocked I felt.
"I blame myself for what happened.''
Ms Namana knows exactly how long she was in the shop before she realised the car was burning.
"It was six minutes and 50 seconds.
"What happened eats at me inside every day. If I could take that time back, I would definitely have done things differently.''
Life is moving on for her children.
"Manaia starts back at day care when school goes back, and Rious will be joining her for the first time,'' she said.
"Thank you again to everyone who has helped us.''