Queenie Withers' grief is sharp and raw as she remembers her three children who died in separate tragedies.
She shares her story for the first time with the Herald to pay tribute to her son Whetu Peke, 16. He died last month after he was hit by a car on Wharepoa West Rd in Kerepehi, not far from Thames.
The mum-of-seven hasn't slept more than four hours a night since Whetu died. Withers, 41, can't stop thinking about her three "heaven babies" and what it would be like if they were still alive.
"Losing two was really really hard. Losing another one is unbearable.
"Burying your own child is the worst thing ever. When it's your babies you crumble inside.
"I have my moments. I cry every day."
A Givealittle has been set up for the family.
It was February 10 when Whetu played his last game on PlayStation at his friend's house, visible from the back porch of Withers' home.
His little brother Zodiac was with him and Whetu decided to walk home at twilight. A farmer had asked them to stop taking a shortcut through his paddocks so the boys walked along the road.
They walked on the right-hand side to face the oncoming traffic.
But they were hit from behind.
At home, Withers heard a bang from her lounge. She thought it was a tractor.
"Then we heard yelling."
Zodiac ran to get help and it was family friends who brought him home in their van.
"Zodiac came home. He ran out of the van while it was still moving, yelling out … That's a yell you don't ever want to hear."
The gathered group of family and bystanders searched for Whetu. But it wasn't until Withers checked the other side of the road that she saw his crumpled, twisted body.
The autopsy showed Whetu died of a head injury. He also had broken legs, cracked ribs and a damaged liver.
As the car came spinning towards the two boys Whetu shoved Zodiac away from the road. All Zodiac remembered was seeing his brother's body flying through the air, Withers said.
"A brother saved a brother. I could have been burying two that night."
Tears choke Withers every few minutes as the waves of memories swell and engulf her.
Whetu was buried next to his two siblings in the family urupa, not far from home.
His little sister Nataria died from pneumonia at 6 months old in 2006. Withers thought she had the flu so took her to the doctor who said to just let the baby rest. The next morning Nataria was found dead in her bed.
Nine months later toddler Maryik died. His heart stopped with no warning. The family later found he had an undiagnosed heart murmur. Since then Withers has supported the Heart Foundation with regular donations in Maryik's honour.
"It was tragic," she recalled. "We were just coming right as a family when Maryik passed away. It takes a long time to heal.
"I thought we just got on our feet not long ago. Sometimes I don't know how I survive but I've got good family, awesome friends, and a great community."
Tall, strong Whetu was mischievous and cheeky, bright and respectful. Growing into a teen he had been rebellious but was always a softy when just Withers and him were at home.
He loved sports; he played rugby as a child and showed promise in AFL in Perth. He had planned to start a sports course the Monday after he died.
"He got the MVP [most valuable player] award last year. He was mean to watch. His tackles were wicked," Withers remembered.
"He had to lean down to give me hugs. He was a cuddly boy. He could shelter you from the rain with his big arms around you.
"He wanted to become a lot of things. He had a lot of dreams. And he would want us to carry on.
"He always says, 'don't give up mum, you can do it'. That's what I used to say to them when they were kids."
Withers' rental is impeccably neat. It's sparsely furnished. No clutter crowds the empty sofas. She's not allowed to hang pictures in case it damages the retro wallpaper so she settles for two frames of Whetu propped up by the front door.
"It's just so quiet at home. It's not the same without Whetu. If we weren't laughing we were arguing; he thinks he's always right, that one.
"I've just been sitting here waiting for this to end. It feels like it's not closed yet."
The family was meant to have unveilings for the little ones this year; they'll wait for next year to do all three now. Withers is going to fundraise the $8000 needed for headstones.
Withers has been with her partner Boogie Peke for 20 years and they've been engaged for seven. She doesn't think they will ever get married, though, as she couldn't bear to have a wedding without their full brood.
On the night of Whetu's death, Peke told Withers he felt sorry for the driver, who would wake up in the morning and realise what he had done.
"My response wasn't that good," she said. Her son had died, and the driver "got to live".
"It's good to forgive but you never forget. I'm angry with him [the driver]. He could be hurting, I don't want to hate the boy, I just want to ask him why."
Almost two months on no charges have been laid. Police are still investigating the crash and are unable to comment.
On anniversaries and birthdays, Withers and her family visit the graves of her babies.
"I talk about my son all the time. It's important to keep the memories alive. It keeps us alive.
"Just because they're gone, doesn't mean they are not a part of our life."
Help the family pay for their unveilings by donating here.