Taku Manawa Kara was helping her mother move house when the car she was driving left the road, killing her in a crash.

It was just a week after she celebrated her 20th birthday.

Taku Manawa was driving from Hamilton to Mahia with a load of belongings from their house early Thursday morning, and crashed near Raupunga on State Highway 2.

Mother Tarnia Ehu said her daughter had just wanted to help whenever and wherever she could.


"I had been given notice to leave my house so she was helping me do trips, taking things back to Mahia where we own some land," Ms Ehu said.

"She would just go out of her way to help and she had already done two trips before this one."

Sister, Tyessha Ehu, said Taku Manawa lived by this quote throughout her life "all good things are wild & free", which supported her free spirit and big heart.

Taku Manawa celebrated her birthday with close friend Zonny, who did not want her full name used, her partner and Taku Manawa's boyfriend.

Zonny said the four of them did a lot of things together so when she asked them to go to Mahia for her birthday they all jumped on board.

"She just loved Mahia and the sea. I would always say 'look at the stars in Hamilton' and think they were so cool but she would say 'no, wait until see you Mahia'.

"She was so right, it was beautiful."

Taku Manawa was born in Napier and moved to Mahia when she was a child, attending Te Mahia School for four years.

"She definitely did the hard yards there in that house," Ms Ehu said.

"We had no hot water or anything but she was such a free spirit and never complained about anything."

The family then moved to Hamilton, where she attended Maeroa Intermediate School and Hamilton Girls' High School and Fairfield College.

Her aunty and "second mum" Vicky Julian said her passion towards art was something "beautiful".

"She got it from her mum who does weaving, they both have such a creative nature," Ms Julian said.

Her passion for art carried through to makeup. Zonny said she would spend "hours" doing her face.

"I told her if she takes too long the day's gone and she would wake up already looking beautiful, but would somehow manage after a few hours in the bathroom to make herself even more beautiful," Taku Manawa's boyfriend said.

Ms Ehu said once she left school she ended up just floating between Hamilton, Napier, Wairoa and Mahia.

"She loved to travel and see beautiful things and didn't have a fixed abode. It could have been my influence on taking her to gypsy fairs when she was younger," Ms Ehu said.

The funeral was held yesterday and people from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island and "across the Ditch" attended.

"It was amazing, she was seriously loved by so many. People even slept in cars just to be with her," Ms Ehu said.

She said Taku Manawa always had a part of her missing, as her dad died when she was just 2 weeks old.

"She always wanted to be with her dad and whenever she came back home she would always visit his grave.

"Now she is up there with him at peace."