The funeral for a young Auckland local board representative, who died of a suspected suicide at the weekend, is being held in the Hokianga today.
Sarah Higgins, a real estate agent for Barfoot & Thompson and member of the Franklin Local Board, 24, was originally from Pawarenga in the Far North and went to school at Whangarei Girls' High School.
Her funeral is at the Motukaraka Church - The Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Assumption - on the northern side of the Hokianga Harbour. It started at 11am.
Her death shocked fellow politicians who knew her. Franklin Local Board, chairman Andy Baker, said the death left them devastated.
"She was the youngest member ever elected to this board and probably one of the youngest to be elected in the whole Franklin area over many decades," Baker said.
"It's left the local board absolutely devastated at her loss.
"This is a loss not only for the board but for the community. It's such a tragic waste of a wonderful young life with so much to offer. Our thoughts are with her friends and family."
Higgins was on the board for a three-year term so was in her early 20s when she was elected.
Whangarei Girls' High School Principal Anne Cooper said Higgins left in 2007 at the end of Year 11, and her death was terribly sad news.
"Her form teacher summed her up well in saying that she was 'a happy and polite form class member. Her sense of humour brightens many a day'," Cooper said.
The Coroner is investigating her death.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906 (Palmerston North and Levin)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.