A "shining light from the day she was born", Kiriana Morrison was creative, positive and loved by her friends and family.

The 17-year-old granddaughter of the late Sir Howard Morrison was killed in a car crash in Auckland on Sunday morning. Tomorrow she will be laid to rest in Rotorua, alongside her grandfather.

Kiriana was a rear seat passenger in one of two cars that collided about 2.15am on Auckland's Northwestern Motorway. No one else was seriously injured.

A whanau spokesperson told the Rotorua Daily Post Kiriana was a "beautiful angel" and said the teenager's death was tragic and senseless.

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"It's a shocking and preventable death. The full realisation has yet to sink in."

The spokesperson said Kiriana loved drama and the creative arts and was a "natural communicator" with a passion for kapa haka.

"This passion was nurtured in Auckland and we would like to acknowledge whaea Fiona Smith, the head of department of Maori at Selwyn College, for paving that pathway."

Kiriana was raised mainly in Auckland, as well as in Rotorua.

All of Kiriana's schooling took place in Auckland. She left Selwyn College at the end of last year after completing Year 12.

Kiriana's body had been taken to the home of her mother, Libby Thomson, and stepfather, Mark Martin, where more than 100 staff and students from Selwyn College were there to "welcome her home".

"It was beautiful to see the many ethnicities come collectively together to mourn the passing of our beautiful girl . . . it was a humbling experience to be part of."

Kiriana had faced challenges in her life with a stoic and positive light, the spokesperson said.

"Her whanau in Rotorua were blessed to have her presence during her school holiday visits when she would come down to stay with her father, Richard Morrison."

Kiriana has three brothers - Darren Haumaha, 32, and younger brothers Joshua, 6, and Elijah, 4.

Her cousin Mariana Morrison said Kiriana was "very, very loved".

The two were in close contact with each, last speaking over the New Year period.

"I was like her big sister," she said.

"It's a lot to comprehend."

Ms Morrison said Kiriana had "lots of friends", many of whom had been leaving condolence messages for her on social media.

"They have been describing her as a caring, compassionate person and very soft-hearted."

Ms Morrison said Kiriana was working while "still deciding on her path" either to go to South Seas Film and Television school or on to nursing, with the option of South Seas looking likely.

A tribute note to Kiriana was posted on the Facebook page of Pukeko Bakery where she had worked in Auckland.

It said she was a valued member of the Pukeko team, "... working at a number of markets, liked by many customers and fellow Pukeko team members".

"She will be missed a great deal and our thoughts are with her family during this tough time."

It was the second tragedy to hit the Pukeko Bakery recently. Rachael Louise De Jong, 21, who drowned in the Aratiatia Rapids near Taupo this month, had also worked there.

Kiriana will be brought back to Rotorua today . Her funeral will be held at St Faith's Church tomorrow before she is buried beside her grandfather in Kauae Cemetery.

A police spokeswoman said inquiries were continuing into the cause of the crash.

More Facebook tributes to Kiriana Morrison

- A beautiful, sweet girl . . . a real character with a heart of gold and love for life . . . she made fast friends wherever she was and always had a good time no matter the circumstances.

- RIP Kiriana, my heart goes out to her family.

- Absolutely tragic. Worked with this girl and her mum at La Cigale. Still shocked that she has gone. My condolences go to her family and friends. Rest in peace.

- RIP Kiriana . . . I can't believe it.

- Oh my God. I'm so so sorry. She was just the most amazing beautiful gorgeous girl who made our weekends touring just so perfect. I am so devastated for you all. What an unbelievable loss.

- RIP Kiriana. A beautiful loving young girl gone way too soon.

- Very beautiful girl, too too sad.

- Omg this is horrible. Her and her family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

- What incredibly sad news. My heart & love goes out to her family & friends.