A pregnant mother threw herself into a farm pond to pull her drowning children to safety, but her desperate attempts to save her daughter were to no avail.
"Happy-go-lucky" Summer Frank, 3, and little brother Brodie, 2, wandered from their Taranaki home while their mother Kelly was in the bathroom dealing with morning sickness. Minutes later, she found them floating in an unfenced oxidation pond.
The children's grandmother, Ellen Frank, said she had asked the farm owner to fence the pond near Kapuni several months ago. There is no legal requirement to restrict access to such ponds, but Ellen Frank said she had pleaded for the children's protection.
Yesterday, she said, the children's devastated father was calling on farmers to fence their ponds to prevent the loss of more young lives.
"My God, they are so deep," Ellen Frank said. "The farmer said, 'you have to train your kids not to go near it - say it's icky-poos'. I'm sure they must be feeling terrible now. I feel so angry but they have to live with it."
Summer's drowning is the 13th since Christmas, contributing to a tragic holiday season on New Zealand's sea, rivers and lakes.
Federated Farmers said most farm properties were reasonably well-fenced, but parents needed to be aware of the dangers. The organisation's next Taranaki executive meeting will discuss how to raise awareness of water dangers on farms.
Kelly Frank and her husband Aaron are sharemilkers who, since June, have been living with their children in a house on the farm near Hawera.
The children were playing on their toy bikes outside the house, while Kelly kept an eye on them. But it took only a couple of minutes for them to toddle nearly 200m to the pond.
Ellen Frank asked: "How can you keep two active kids confined when there is no fence? It was a full-on job for her, constantly watching them, saying, 'don't wander off, don't go any further'. But of course, kids are going to try."
Kelly attempted CPR while calling emergency services, but Summer died at the scene.
Farm owners Francis and Jenny Mullan were deeply shocked and have sent flowers to the Franks. Jenny Mullan, who is ill with cancer, said they were having difficulty handling the tragedy, but were trying to cope.
"You've just got to let the family grieve," Francis Mullan said.
The Franks brought their daughter's body home on Friday. Her funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon.
"She was beautiful and bubbly, very loving and kind," her grandmother said.
"She loved the beach - she would run her heart out. I'd pick her up and her little heart would be pumping. She was happy-go-lucky - she would always wake up with the biggest smile on her face."
Brodie seemed unharmed, but was upset and slept with his mum and dad on Friday night. "He had a rough night," Ellen Frank said. "We don't know how much he remembers."
A Labour Department inspector has visited, but said that because the family lived on the site, it was a police matter and not an occupational safety and health issue.
"There are no rules relating to the fencing of ponds or other water courses," a department spokesman said. "On farms there are many hazards and I guess those people who live on farms are aware of these hazards and do their best to make sure their children are safe."
Federated Farmers president Peter Adamski said it was nigh-on impossible to fence all farm ponds.
"The cost is prohibitive," he said.
"It's just part of the rural environment - there is water everywhere. Water troughs, ponds, and kids just go for it.
"You have to give them their boundaries and keep an eye on them."
Water Safety New Zealand General Manager Matt Claridge said the number of drownings so far this year was "deeply concerning".