Life was perfect for Paul and Alex Raine, who immigrated to New Zealand six years ago from England as newlyweds and were raising their two young daughters in Auckland.

But last Saturday night Paul, 43, went for his nightly walk in Torbay, and never came home.

He got as far as the local park and collapsed. Nearby residents went to the engineering manager's aid and performed CPR until an ambulance arrived but it was too late.

Paul and Alex had two daughters - including Elliana, 2 1/2 and Kaila, who turned one the day after her father's tragic death. Paul also had two other daughters living in the UK, aged 16 and 13, from a previous relationship.

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By 9.30pm, two hours after Paul failed to return from his half hour walk and without his mobile phone, Alex began to panic.

She rang her sister Jane Scarth in England, who tried to allay Alex's fears over the doting husband and father's disappearance.

"I said he was just walking off the chocolate cake from this morning," Jane said of the Facetime party the families held earlier that day for youngest daughter Kaila's first birthday.

Jane suggested Alex, 38, call the local police which she did.

"She said she could see blue flashing lights up on the hill and I said to her 'He'll be rescuing somebody', because that's what he's like."

A police car arrived at the couple's home, about 500 metres from the scene, and officers asked for a description of her missing husband.

"They said it was him and informed her that sadly CPR had taken place but it had failed."

The shocked mother was distraught and Jane arranged for Paul's boss at Jackson Engineering to identify his body.

Alex (left) and Paul Raine with their two daughters, Kaila, 1, and Elliana, 2 1/2, during a trip to Fiji in June. Photo / Facebook.
Alex (left) and Paul Raine with their two daughters, Kaila, 1, and Elliana, 2 1/2, during a trip to Fiji in June. Photo / Facebook.

Jane, 50, got on the first plane to New Zealand and has been by her sister's side since.

The heart attack was a bolt from the blue. Only two weeks earlier Paul went to his doctor for tests after his brother in the UK required stents in his heart.

"Out of precaution Paul went into the doctors and had an ECG [echo cardiogram], which said he was fine. They said his blood pressure was a little raised and his cholesterol was a little raised."

Paul switched to a low-cholesterol diet, walked daily and never smoked, Jane said.

She said Alex was completely lost without her husband, whom she'd been with 11 years.

"She doesn't know how she's going to bring up two children on her own. She doesn't know where to start. Their lives are shattered right now. It's awful."

Jane said a network of close friends had been comforting Alex since the tragedy but she said the support and generosity of total strangers had "absolutely knocked the socks off me".

"I've never seen anything like it in my life. People just turn up with gifts. Total strangers who live up the road and have cooked meals and said 'We've heard. Here's a meal, you don't know us but here's food'. And I'm like 'My God'. You wouldn't get this in the UK."

That support included packing up the couple's home, selling furniture and shipping personal possessions such as photographs and trinkets the girls will need to remember their father.

Without Paul's income the stay-at-home mum, who previously worked for Air NZ, would now have to return to England to live with Jane and her husband.

Friend Dave Nankivell set up a Givealittle page to support the family through the financial burden of Paul's funeral and their repatriation to the UK.

The page has received almost $25,000 in donations, overwhelming the grateful family.

Paul Raine on holiday a few months before he died suddenly at the weekend in Auckland. Photo / Facebook
Paul Raine on holiday a few months before he died suddenly at the weekend in Auckland. Photo / Facebook

Jane, whose company Dalziel Ingredients have also donated, said it was testament to the kindness of Kiwis but also to the love people had for Paul.

"Everybody has said he was a very kind, considerate, selfless person. He put everyone in front of himself. He was just very genuine, very nice and very well-respected within the engineering industry."

Jane said Elliana in particular knew her father was gone.

"On a morning when she wakes up the first thing she wants to do is see her daddy and she's just lost. She's asking her mum 'Has Daddy gone up to the stars?' because Alex has tried to explain."

Paul's funeral was held on Friday and his body was cremated.

Jane said it was a two-fold trauma for the children because they would leave the only home they've ever known on August 25.

"Home isn't the UK to them. They're Kiwis. They've lost their father and they're going to lose their home... and it's just so unfair for them.

"But I'm sure they'll return many times, especially to thank the people of New Zealand for what they've done. It's just phenomenal."

• To donate or help Alex and her children search Help Alex at Givealittle.co.nz