A Rotorua toddler has been remembered as "a little angel, a little Spider-Man" by staff at the daycare he attended.
Inspiring Kids Rotorua manager Lily Gouws spoke about the boy following his death almost a week ago.
The boy, whose family do not want named, was in seemingly perfect health when he arrived at the centre last Friday, but began to feel sick during the day, Gouws said.
Staff called an ambulance around 3pm but the boy died, as a result of an undetected brain tumour, in Starship Children's Hospital last Sunday.
"He loved Spider-Man. His whole funeral was Spider-Man themed, we had blue and red flowers. That little boy is in a better place now," Gouws said.
"He was a little angel, a little Spider-Man. He said every day was his birthday. He was not a rough little boy, he was quiet, gentle. He was very reserved. The family can be proud of him because he was really beautiful."
Gouws said the boy's family was happy for her to speak to the Rotorua Daily Post but were not ready to speak publicly.
Gouws said in the week following the toddler's death the community had rallied around the centre and the experience had been amazing.
The family kept the centre updated on the boy's condition and the Ministry of Education has offered staff support. The centre was closed so staff could attend the child's tangi on Wednesday.
"It's hard for the teachers. We have been involved with that child for many years," she said.
"We went and paid our last respects and saw our little baby and could say our goodbyes to him. For me that was a totally different experience to see how peaceful he laid there and have time to get closure around that."
As a South African seeing the Maori tangi, she said, "I've never seen death so beautiful".
Gouws said the staff were devastated and traumatised by the loss.
"It was a very bad experience for us. It's shocking. But I've also realised that nature takes its course and there's nothing we can do about it," she said.
"Also what makes this amazing is the support. This is so awesome, all the support we got and the fact the family let us support them too.
Gouws said it was fortunate most of the children at the centre had gone home by the time the ambulance was called so weren't traumatised by the situation.
But they had also taken the time to remember the boy by making cards and letters for his family and singing the boy's favourite song, Tutira Mai Nga Iwi.
Gouws said it was important the community knew what had happened at the centre.
"They have questions and the community is part of our family and school too," she said.
"To lose a child suddenly and not be prepared for that, I can't really tell you how I would feel.
"This is not easy, it's really not easy. It's not something I would wish on any family."
A St John spokeswoman said an ambulance was sent to the centre just after 3pm on the Friday and transported the 3-year-old to Rotorua Hospital in a critical condition.