The family of Ferro-James Tiopira Sio say the 5-year-old loved the "monster" who killed him - his father.
Today William James Sio, 25 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for the murder of his son in Rotorua emergency housing on February 8 last year, and related charges.
Court documents showed the boy died after a severe and sustained beating at the hands of his father, and that his father had a history of abusing him.
Following the sentencing, Ferro's Aunt Tracey released a statement on behalf of his whanāu, sharing memories of him and speaking out against abuse and violence.
The statement said that while the sentence recognised the seriousness of the crimes committed against Ferro, it could not bring him back.
"Nothing can and ever will aid us in turning back time and adjusting it to see Ferro grow alongside his cousins, his brother.
"It won't allow his mother to hear her boy say "sank you" or "I lus you" in his famous sweet lispy voice or feel the warmth of his arms around her neck again.
"Ferro will never get to experience fatherhood, a privilege his father clearly disregarded.
"Ferro is so much more than the face of any anti-abuse campaign.
"He was a great dancer, a guy with mad rhythm and whistling skills, he sang with the voice of an angel. His laugh was heart-melting.
"He dreamt of driving his own car, he dreamt of owning a horse, he had plans and potential. He was loved and he was so so brave.
"His heart was gold and he loved that monster, Sio, with all his heart."
The statement said the family was "sick and broken" imagining themselves in the boy's shoes having learned "how horrific his last days were".
"This will mess with us for a long time to come."
The statement called for the notion of asking for help and reaching out the be normalised and for people to educate themselves on signs of abuse.
"We as a whanau beg anyone who can identify as struggling with any issues raised around violence today to reach out, you can still turn things around and have a different outcome than what you see here.
"For your niece, nephew, son, daughter, cousin, uncle, aunty, nanny, papa...it doesn't have to be too late.
"Act now, while it's not too late to create a better future. Please. We urge you."
The family also thanked those who had supported them and worked on the case, including police, court and hospital staff.
Police Detective Sergeant Caroline Wharton also issued a statement about the case, saying thoughts were with Ferro-James' family and friends mourning his short life.
"We can only hope our work to hold his murderer to account will bring them
some level of comfort."
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the investigation team who did
an outstanding job in the face of these senseless acts on a vulnerable child."
Police were committed to preventing and reducing the impact of family harm.
"We know it can be difficult to reach out, but police and a range of other
organisations are here to help.
"If you are the victim of family harm or you have concerns about the safety of
a friend or loved one, please call 111."