Boy fine day before shock death: Carer

By Lin Ferguson

The after-school carer of the 9-year-old boy who died suddenly on Friday in Raetihi said he seemed fine while playing at her house the previous afternoon.

The woman, who wanted to be known only as Aunty Ku, is a member of Antony Herewini-Christensen's whanau.

She told the Chronicle yesterday Antony went to her home every day from Raetihi School, with her two boys.

She said there were no signs of any problem on Thursday afternoon.

"I didn't see anything wrong with him. He wasn't sick, he was fine."

She said Antony had been a polite young boy.

"I always have a lot of kids come in after school. You know how boys do - they all rush in, go straight to the fridge, then go and play. But Antony was always really good. He always waited to be invited in and he never helped himself to the fridge. He was always very polite and waited to be asked."

Aunty Ku said she never thought in her wildest dreams when the siren went off on Friday morning that she would be hearing such terrible news.

"So I couldn't believe it when I got a phone call about 7.30am to tell me little Antony was dead.

"It was very hard to tell my boys. They just didn't believe me."

Antony was a member of Raetihi Primary School's kapa haka group, and kapa haka competitions were on Friday, she said.

"Antony's group were talked to by their tutor and told they needed to perform for their friend and still do their best ... you know."

They draped Antony's kapa haka uniform across the front of the stage, she said.

"It was so moving and so sad ... it was so hard to believe that he had died."

And though she had told them not to, Aunty Ku's oldest sons went to the marae to see Antony.

"They were very upset. It was horrible," she said.

Raetihi School principal Kawana Wallace said it was a sad time for the school and community.

"At this stage there is no information regarding the cause of Antony's death. I guess the police will let everyone know as soon as they can."

The children performed at the marae yesterday for the family, he said.

"It was very moving."

Antony's tangi is at Te Puke Marae, Raetihi, today.

Mr Wallace said pupils and staff were holding up well and supporting each other.

Staff and children would attend the tangi today at 11am, but the school would remain open, he said.

"Antony was a great young man, who enjoyed kapa haka and sports. He also had a beautiful smile.

"He will be missed by everyone here at Raetihi School."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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