A week after a horrific balloon crash in Carterton claimed the lives of 11 people, the first of its victims was farewelled at a private service yesterday.
Mourners poured into the Michael Fowler Centre on a sunny Wellington afternoon to farewell 21-year-old Chrisjan Jordaan.
He and his girlfriend, Alexis Still, 19, were on board the balloon that caught fire and crashed in Carterton last Saturday.
Their bodies were released to their families days earlier than the other victims.
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Jordaan, who was studying nursing at Massey University in Wellington, was a prominent youth leader at Arise Church which worships out of the Michael Fowler Centre.
Hundreds of friends and family hugged and consoled each other outside before heading inside for the 90-minute private service.
Many police officers attended the funeral, as well as Carterton mayor Ron Mark.
The service was followed by a private cremation. A memorial service will also be held at Heriot Church in West Otago on Thursday.
Jordaan, originally from South Africa, has been described by his parents, Jan and Annie, as wise and patient.
He had hoped to use his nursing skills on African mission work.
Alexis Still's funeral will take place tomorrow at Arise Church at the Michael Fowler Centre.