Wairoa Primary School principal Richard Lambert has been teaching for nearly three decades and he's never come across a girl like Teang Atauea.
"All our students are special, but Teang was a level above," Lambert told Hawke's Bay Today as part of an emotional tribute to the 10-year-old today.
Teang, a Year 6 pupil from Room 16 at the school, died from her injuries in Hawke's Bay Hospital on June 23 after a crash on the Napier-Taupo Rd on June 21.
The crash between Kawaro Roadway and Turangakumu Road has also left her mother with moderate injuries (on Monday she was in a stable condition in Hawke's Bay Hospital) and her younger sister remains in Starship Hospital in a stable condition, being looked after by her father.
Her older brother was injured in the crash as well but was not transported to a hospital.
"In all my time teaching, and in fact for most of the teachers who taught her, I have never come across someone as sweet, lovely and as beautiful a soul as Teang," Lambert said.
Teang's family, originally from Kiribati, moved to Wairoa three years ago. It was then both she and her brother enrolled in Wairoa Primary.
"She had many friends in school. She was the type of girl who was there if someone was down, girl or boy. She would always try to remedy any incident," Lambert said.
"Those of you who met Teang will remember a kind and caring young lady with a beautiful smile and it is an immense loss to our school whanau that she is no longer with us.
"She was just very, very special and it is a tragedy that has affected us deeply."
Lambert praised the resilience of Teang's teachers, senior staff, and school through it all.
"Her classroom teacher remained amazingly professional through it all, but we told the students that it was okay to cry and okay if they saw some adults cry," he said.
"When the kids were told the news you could see them going up and hugging their teachers.
"I cannot speak highly enough of my staff."
He also praised the Wairoa community for their support.
"One of the school's brought over morning tea for the staff, another sent out lunch, and another sent out flowers. We are very grateful."
He said the most important thing they could do was be supportive and encourage discussion about what has happened, the feelings it gives rise to, and ways of responding.
"We have implemented a plan for responding to this sad loss and helping children, young people and their families/whānau," he said.
"We will try to maintain as normal a routine and structures where we can. We encourage you to do the same. If you feel that your child(ren) or family/whānau need assistance or anything else, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help.
"We know that you will join us in our concern, support and sympathy for the Atauea whanau who are still coping with their own injuries from the accident and still have their youngest child in the hospital."
Teang's funeral plans are yet to be made, and the family and community are waiting for her to be returned to Wairoa from the hospital, Lambert said.
"We talked to her family about it and her closest friends and many of her classmates will be at the funeral.
"Right now the father's energy is focused on the little girl and her recovery," Lambert said.