Four-year-old Troy Campilan kisses a photograph of his daddy Noel Campilan every night before he goes to bed.

His sister Yenyen tries to stay strong for their mother Apple.

But the sadness gets to all of them - knowing that Noel will never come home again.

Christchurch builder Noel Cruza Campilan, 46, was returning from a hunting trip with a mate on June 4 last year.

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He'd text his wife Apple at about 5.30pm to say he was on his way home.

It was Queen's Birthday weekend and traffic was heavy.

Truck driver Michael Joseph Johnsen was refreshed and comfortable travelling north on State Highway One between Christchurch and Picton - a road he'd travelled many times. It'd just gone dark, the road was dry.

But at about 6.15pm, 1km south of Greta Valley in North Canterbury - for reasons Johnsen still can't explain or understand - his Courier Post truck and trailer unit drifted across the centreline on a moderate bend.

An oncoming van with three Argentinian tourists inside took evasive action. They lost control and the van rolled onto its side against a powerpole.

Campilan's ute collided with the truck driven by 59-year-old Johnsen. He died at the scene, one of 11 killed on New Zealand roads on Queen's Birthday weekend last year.

Today at Christchurch District Court, Johnsen was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death.

Many friends and family of Campilan - who came to New Zealand from the Philippines when he was 16 - were in court today.

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Apple read an emotional victim impact statement outlining the suffering her family has endured since the tragic death.

They were happily married, she said, with two young kids - Yenyen, 9, and four-year-old Troy. Campilan had another daughter, 27-year-old Marnoelle Ramirez.

"The kids really miss him," Apple said.

"It will take time for it to all sink in."

Times have been tough for the Campilans. Noel was the main breadwinner and Apple has no other family in New Zealand. Her mother came from the Philippines to help her out after the death but has since returned.

"I am just alone with my two kids now," Apple said, though she vowed to stay in New Zealand and "make their lives here".

Johnsen, of Lake Grassmere in Marlborough, apologised to the family during a restorative justice conference before court today.

Following the accident, Johnsen had been assessed as being in a "disassociated state", defence counsel Rob Harrison said.

Johnsen had no previous convictions, a clean driving record, and had driven SH1 "many, many times".

"[Johnsen] is at an absolute loss as to what has occurred," Harrison said.

"This was a momentary lapse (of attention) which had such severe consequences."

Judge John MacDonald accepted that Johnsen had drifted across the road "through some momentary inattention".

And he acknowledged that Johnsen was remorseful, giving him credit for fronting up to a restorative justice conference with family.

Johnsen was sentenced to 200 hours of community work and ordered to pay $6500 reparation to the Campilan family. He was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.