One of the victims in the Taupo crash had just celebrated his 60th birthday with "so much life ahead of him".
But Leighton Ahuriri's life was cut short by Tuesday's two-vehicle crash that claimed four lives and left eight others battling a raft of injuries.
His daughter Kirsty Ahuriri was gutted her dad's life was taken so suddenly. She remembered him as "her rock" who listened and never judged her and her three siblings.
"He had just celebrated his birthday and was on holiday, it shouldn't have ended up like this. It's not fair.
"We were still on a high from his party. It's just the way he went is heartbreaking."
Yesterday, police released the names of the people who died in the SH1 crash.
Mele Ilisapi Oliveti, 44, a Tongan national residing in Palmerston North died in one vehicle.
Helena Adele Paul, 56, Leighton Phillip Ahuriri, 60, and 5-year-old Hone Te Ahurei Hawkins-Kanuta died in the other car.
A 10-month-old boy, believed to be Hone's brother, is in a stable condition in Starship Hospital.
Kirsty did not know Paul and Hone, who were travelling with her dad but thought Paul must have been a friend of his.
Originally from Gisborne but now living in Australia, Ahuriri, also known as Nick, was working at Perth Airport. Paul and Hone live in Kaikohe, Far North.
Ahuriri had flown to New Zealand last week for his birthday party on Friday. He then planned to holiday around the country and visit his children.
The family had blown up helium balloons in colours to match the blue, red and cream cake, set up a present table and organised a buffet feast in a rented room at the Taupo Cosmopolitan Club for his birthday, Kirsty said. The night was full of celebration with his children, grandchildren and friends.
Kirsty wanted her dad to be known as the amazing cheeky man she remembered.
"When he's around all his moko, that's when he's alive. His face lights up.
"He did really silly things to embarrass us when we were young. At the shopping mall he'd dance around like a ballerina. He was super cool. The easiest-going dad.
"He'd just listen and never judge us. He always 100 per cent supported us no matter what we did or what decision we made."
Although Ahuriri enjoyed coming back to New Zealand he loved Perth, Kirsty said. He was looking forward to going back to work and planning a cruise in Fiji next year.
"He had so much life ahead of him.
"He was ready to live life with the people who made him happy."
The plan was to move Ahuriri to Gisborne today where family would gather from around Australasia to lay him to rest.
Paul and Hone have been taken to Mangamuka Marae in the Far North.