Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Hundreds gather to farewell Flat Bush fire victim

The 11-year-old daughter of the fourth victim of the Flat Bush fire has spoken at his funeral today of the moment she heard her "Papa" had died.

"Losing my dad was like losing a part of me, it was never meant to be," said Krishah.

Hundreds turned up to pay tribute to the life of Kailesh Thananbalisingham, who was farewelled today - just over a month after his family home burst into flames and claimed the life of his wife, 5-year-old son and mother-in-law.

The 47-year-old died from his injuries last Friday morning in Middlemore Hospital - leaving his daughter, aged 11, an orphan.

Krishah said losing three members of her family was hard enough but "losing another made me feel less tough".

"He was the strongest, bravest person," she said. "I don't have any more words for his death; when I heard it I almost lost my breath."

Family gathered around the coffin, adorned with flowers and a portrait, before the service at the Manukau Memorial Gardens - the same place where the funeral for the rest of his family was held on January 5.

As traditional chanting echoed throughout the chapel members of the public solemnly filled the pews, before a series of prayers heralded the start of the funeral service.

Malliga Baladasan, Kailesh's aunt, shared a eulogy and her grief at the loss of a devoted husband and loving father who spent weeks fighting for his life.

She said her nephew went through many challenges in his "short life", including losing his father in 1987 as a result of the ethnic war in Sri Lanka, which began in 1983 after tensions between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Hindu Tamil minority community escalated.

"December 22nd was an unforgettable and saddest day for his family and friends when the fatal fire claimed the love of his life, his son and his mother-in-law."

His two older sisters flew from Canada to be by his side in the Intensive Care Unit.

"We all hoped he would pull through, but he lost his battle on the 20th of January 2017 and joined his wife. Goodbye Kailesh."

Following the eulogy pictures of Kailesh, the only boy of three siblings, and his family, were played on TV screens throughout the small church, as those attending the funeral looked on in silence.

After the tribute by his only daughter, his older sister Kausi Jeyakumar, amid tears spoke of her unbearable pain and how she'd miss his "sparkling smile".

"The sweet memories we created, growing up together is going to be the walking stick for me going on."

She paid tribute to her brother's work in the community and with other refugees.

"You gave back the best to the country, which welcomed you with open arms," she said. "Success in life is how many people are better off because you lived.

"I'm very proud to be your sister."

Last week, fire investigators said it was impossible to work out the cause of the blaze, which engulfed the house on December 22.

Krishah and her grandfather were the only two to escape the blaze alive.

The team ascertained the fire had started in the lounge, where it smouldered for about 90 minutes before bursting into flame.

At least one working smoke alarm was in the house at the time of the fire.

A Givealittle page set up for the family by the Refugee Council has so far amassed more than $80,000.

The family thanked those who donated the money, which they said would go towards Krishah's future.

- NZ Herald

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