Two teenage brothers killed in a car crash last weekend were "blessed with generous, caring and loving hearts", their mother says.
Hape Raroa Sullivan, 18, and Thor Tamanui Sullivan, 16, were buried side by side at the Te Totara Urupa in Ruatoki on Wednesday, five days after the car they were travelling in hit a tree and rolled on Tirohanga Rd, north of Taupo, last Friday night. A 14-year-old girl was badly hurt.
Talking to the Herald on Sunday, the boys' mother, Melanie Sullivan, said the pair were much-loved and had provided their family with immense pride during their short lives.
"Hape and Thor's story is not unlike the story of young Maori boys in small towns in Aotearoa," she said.
"They were brothers in arms and went everywhere together. They were fiercely loyal to each other and loved adventure, and they were both blessed with generous, caring and loving hearts."
The boys were born at Tauranga Hospital and raised in the Waikato town of Tokoroa.
They both completed study at Te Wananga o Aotearoa's Tokoroa Campus after ending their secondary schooling.
Sullivan said Hape had "a natural talent for looking after young children and babies" and was a promising rugby league player before being diagnosed with a heart condition.
"Hape [then] turned his focus to looking after his family and family home," she said.
"While Hape was the elder of the two, Thor often spoke for the both of them and looked out for his big brother.
"Throughout Thor's schooling a number of teachers made the comment that Thor was a natural born leader. He had the ability to draw other children to him, and he was looked up to by other kids."
Thor was a cadet with Defence Force's No34 South Waikato Squadron.
"One of his most vivid ATC [Air Training Corps] memories was flying a glider. It opened up his horizons and he dreamt of getting out of Tokoroa, being a soldier and helping his mum. These boys were the most loyal soldiers to their family," she said.
Members of Thor's squadron formed a guard of honour for the brothers before family and friends performed a haka at their tangi.
Sullivan said the tangi had featured many moving tributes.
They were memories they would hold dear "as we settle into our life without Hape and Thor".
"There were so many stories that really filled our hearts, people shared with the whanau about the random acts of kindness, support and mischief," she said.
"Our love, gratitude and thanks goes out to the whole community of Tokoroa and our hapu Te Urewera for their overwhelming generosity. There were multitudes of manuhiri fed and cared for by the communities' contributions."
Police confirmed last week that Thor was driving the car and that speed appeared to be the main factor in the crash.