The family of Rob Ayley, who was killed on flight MH17, will hold a private memorial tomorrow while they wait for his body to be returned.

The 29-year-old Wellington man was travelling home on the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines passenger flight in which 298 people died when it was shot down over Ukraine last week.

Ayley had been on a month-long trip to Europe looking at kennels with plans to import rottweilers.

His mother, Wendie Ayley, told the Herald on Sunday it was unclear when his body will be returned. "We have to wait for the whole process of him to be identified so it may be relatively soon, it may be a very long time away," she said.


"We haven't watched the media much so we haven't bought into what's happening at the site and politically at the area."

His wife of four years, Sharlene and two young sons, Seth, 4, and Taylor, 2, have been staying at the Ayley family home in Tawa since the tragedy. Sharlene is not yet ready to speak publicly about her loss.

The family will hold the private memorial at their church, where Rob played the drums on Sundays and where Seth was christened. "The church community there knew Rob well and encouraged him. It will be an opportunity for everybody who knew Rob to come together and celebrate what an awesome wee man he was, to share a few mischievous stories," said Wendie.

"He knew so many people from so many walks of life it will be a chance to bring everybody together."

They also hope the memorial will help the family heal.

"It has been such a public event and we've been really aware that the public at large has been very connected to this event, but for us it has remained a very private event.

"We're missing Rob and we'll continue to miss Rob and we want to do that privately, quietly and respectfully."

The family have set up the Rob Ayley Trust Fund at Westpac 03-1533-0043673-000. All donations will go towards Seth and Taylor's future.