A Mother's Day lunch today will double as a fundraiser for two children who survived a car crash that claimed the life of their mum.
Phoenix, 4, and Faith, 3, Ruddell are recovering in Starship Hospital after the head-on crash a week ago.
Eight days ago, Tracey O'Brien, 26, died in the crash outside the Charlemagne Lodge wedding venue on State Highway 2 at Te Puna.
The Herald on Sunday reported last week how she died despite the efforts of bridegroom Jordan Mountfort and his groomsman who ran out to help.
O'Brien's former partner and father of the girls Matt Ruddell said the kids surprised their mum last year with cards featuring their handprints. This year, he was trying to organise a card as a token to Tracey so the children could say goodbye. Phoenix had been calling out to his mother in his sleep and yesterday Faith "wanted Mummy and Daddy" when she came out of the general anaesthetic. "They haven't asked where she is yet and they haven't asked what happened, so I am trying to avoid that until they are both ready and I can tell them together. I want to be prepared."
Ruddell was overwhelmed by the support, including from the restaurant where he is a sous chef, the Phoenix, which is today holding a fundraiser for the children. He wanted to be there but has to be with Phoenix and Faith.
Faith faces a year-long recovery for her head injury.
"We chose Mother's Day because for Phoenix and Faith this day will never be the same again. It is very sad," said Phoenix owner Mel Lawrence. "The kids would be in here once a week with Matt on his day, they are so full of energy and Faith is a real cutey."
Mel and husband Mark Lawrence will donate 10 per cent of the day's takings to a fund for the children's future. The restaurant had received numerous calls about donations.
Boat owner Murray Guy also planned to take people on harbour cruises in exchange for a donation, and Tauranga bar Krazy Jacks was also planning a fundraising night.
The Givealittle.co.nz donation page had reached $10,000 last night, including a $4,300 donation from Auckland company Iconicity.