The teenage boys of a slain Serbian supermarket guard have been assured they will never be alone, as it was revealed their father was just months away from becoming a New Zealand citizen.
Goran Milosavljevic died after allegedly being attacked while working as a security guard outside Countdown Papakura last week.
He was farewelled this morning by family, friends and colleagues in a moving Serbian religious ceremony in Māngere.
Milosavljevic moved to New Zealand in 2009, and worked hard so he could support his family. He had worked for Countdown Papakura for eight months, and previously for Allied Security.
His death marked a string of tragedies for the family, following the death of his parents in September last year.
His two sons Stefan, 15, and Alex, 19, had recently joined their father in New Zealand and were pallbearers during the ceremony.
Alex said in bringing his sons to New Zealand, their father had achieved everything he wanted.
"We are grateful and honoured by our father.
"We know you will be happy and proud of us. We love you."
Allied Security regional manager Jason Lynch said Milosavljevic always spoke about his boys.
"He moved here for a better life for his family. He always spoke about his boys, would tell everybody about his hopes and dreams for them. Having met them, they are exceptional young men.
"Alex, Stefan, know that we and wider New Zealand will be with you every step of the way.
"On behalf of Allied Security family, it has been a pleasure to have met you, employed you, walked with you, and your legacy will live on through your boys."
Milosavljevic brought joy and positivity to the team, and was a highly respected member of the "family", Lynch said.
"He had a unique way of interacting with people. Staff, clients and members of the public all loved him.
"We heard during his training that he turned up each day with muffins for his tutors. We thought, this is who we need."
After a trip to Serbia, in typical "Goran fashion" he brought the team back a bottle of whiskey.
"That sums up his attitude. We will be having one for you today."
Countdown managing director Dave Chambers said Milosavljevic was well loved and respected.
"How he helped the public, and his general love for humanity."
Speaking to Alex and Stefan, he said Countdown would be there to support their future endeavours.
A friend of Milosavljevic said, tragically, he always put others before himself.
"As part of his nature, he put himself last to protect others."
After his parents died in a motor accident he told her it was the first time in life he felt alone, she said.
"He said his parents were his biggest support."
His parents died in September last year, after he had returned home to visit his youngest son.
His family reportedly drove him to the airport and were returning when they crashed on the outskirts of Belgrade, at Bubanj Potok.
Serbian community elder Nebojsa Joveljic didn't know Milosavljevic but said his death was a tragedy that had shaken people.
Joveljic said Milosavljevic was only months away from being eligible to gain New Zealand citizenship.
Consulate of the Republic of Serbia honorary consul Stevan Berber said the boys would be well supported.
"This is the most tragic event in our Serbian community from the time I came 25 years ago.
"Unfortunately I didn't know Goran before, now I know his sons.
"We will do our best to help his sons, continue their life in the right directions. I see clearly we have excellent support from the council, and people in Manurewa."
The memorial service at Anns Funeral Home was overseen by three Serbian priests, including Milic Rakic, a relative of Milosavljevic who had flown over from Melbourne.
The burial took place at Manukau Memorial Gardens, where some Serbian religious rituals were performed by the priests.
A 17-year-old man is in custody charged with manslaughter and has interim name suppression.
He is yet to enter a plea and the case will be transferred to the High Court at Auckland later in the month.