Belinda Feek is a NZ Herald reporter

Tears and memories at toddler's funeral: 'I remember him as a happy little boy'

In a short but emotional speech, Conner's mother said he was always in her thoughts. Photo / Supplied
In a short but emotional speech, Conner's mother said he was always in her thoughts. Photo / Supplied

The funeral for an 18-month-old Hauraki toddler who died after being hit by vehicles outside his house was packed today.

More than 200 people gathered at Hamilton Park Cemetery on the outskirts of the city to pay their respects to Conner Ian Lance Valvoi; the little boy with the bright blue eyes and mischievous grin.

There was hardly a dry eye in the room as family and friends recounted stories about Conner, who was fatally struck by multiple cars outside his parents' Waitakaruru house on State Highway 25 on Thursday.

At the time, his father Dylan Valvoi was milking cows, while his mother, Wendy Wallace, was inside preparing the school lunches for their older children, Riley, Kayleigh and Savannah.

The couple had also only celebrated their engagement a week before Conner's death.

Savannah also suffers from tumours on her vocal cords and lungs which requires her to receive hospital treatment on a regular basis and has endured more than 260 operations to date.

In a short but emotional speech, Miss Wallace said he was always in her thoughts, "fly high my darling".

"My heart aches without you."

Mr Valvoi said everything about his son was perfect, "with your captivating blue eyes and and cheeky little grin".

"This is not goodbye my son, but until we meet again."

Conner's grandmother, Terrimarie Valvoi, said she will always have her grandson in her heart.

Her comments also brought some light relief to the room as she recalled babysitting one night.

Miss Wallace told her that he was a "handful" but she responded "that's all right".

She began feeding him his spaghetti bolognese which his mother had made him, turned her head for one second, before turning back and Conner throwing it in her face.

"It was running down my neck and face ... and we started laughing ... and gave him sausages instead."

Conner's cousin, Makayla Wallace-Tidd, says he lived an eventful life and developed a love of the farm during his short-lived years, especially the cows.

"He loved cows and food and would say 'mama' when he was hungry ... the more food he had the happier he was."

She also recalled him trying to play hide and seek in his camouflage onesie.

"I remember him as a happy little boy who was sweet and adventurous."

Family friend and Waitakaruru church pastor Graham Wilson MC'd the event and added that the couple weren't to blame and that it could have happened to anybody.

At the end, mourners stood outside and watched as family released a bunch of blue balloons.

After the funeral, Conner's grandfather said he and Mr Valvoi now wished to meet with the young driver of the car that first hit their son.

He said they didn't bear any illwill against him and were treating his death as a tragic accident.

Conner's godfather, Willie Oosthuysen, has also set up a Givealittle page to help with the family's expenses as they deal with their loss and continue to treat Savannah for her tumours. People who wish to donate can visit:

- NZ Herald

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