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Jayden Brytane Andrews-Howland, of Aranui was heading into town when the earthquake struck a day before his 15th birthday.
He was seen boarding the No 3 bus into the Christchurch CBD shortly before the magnitude 6.3 quake, having been let out of school early due to a teacher-only afternoon.
Jayden's family believe he had gone into town to look for his birthday present.
His grandmother, Janet Andrews, choked back tears as she spoke of Jayden.
"He had his bike stolen a few weeks ago so he often just went into town on the bus before going home.
"He would have been looking for something to use his birthday money on."
Mrs Andrews said Jayden was an only child and his mother was distraught.
"You can imagine his mother is just cut up about it. You just don't understand it, but he really was her life."
She described her grandson as a "good kid" who loved riding his bike.
Grandfather Archie Andrews described Jayden as his "best mate", a well-behaved boy who saved hard and was generous. "He never bought himself McDonald's without buying something for his mother."