Max Devine was only 4-months-old when he lost his battle for life last year.

Litza and Dominic Devine are still emotional when they speak of their little boy, who was - and still is - special to his 10 brothers and sisters.

Max had Down syndrome and was very ill, spending most of his life in Starship children's hospital. He had a month at home, on and off, Mrs Devine said.

"Max was my 11th child and, in the four months we had him, he gave more to this family in his short life than all my other children. He made us come out of our self-centredness."

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It was Michael Laws' comments about Down syndrome people that devastated Max's family.

"He does not have an understanding of people," Mrs Devine said. "He should not hold office at the health board - what is he representing in our community? You teach your children to be charitable and they learn by example. I feel sorry for his family.

"When his little girl was sick, the Wanganui community pulled together. His family were so blessed, but he has cursed himself with his words."

After the loss of Max, the family were comforted by their parish priest, Father Cranshaw, who told them that their son was sent not just for his family, but for his parish family as well.

Mrs Devine said Max had "a knowing" in his eyes, something none of her other children had.

Despite being in pain a lot of the time, the family knew he was a gift who gave so much to all he touched.

As the family prepare for Christmas, there is a present for Max.

And a present for each of the children from Max.