The heartbreak of the parents of Kiriana Morrison began with a knock on the door from police.

Their beautiful, courageous, talented, loyal and generous teenage daughter had been killed in a car crash.

Her short life was over - their "nightmare" began.

In 2017, Morrison had passed her learner's licence, she was ready to go on a gap year and had accepted a new job. Photo / Supplied
In 2017, Morrison had passed her learner's licence, she was ready to go on a gap year and had accepted a new job. Photo / Supplied

Her mother Libby Martin told the High Court at Auckland today that 2017 was supposed to be a great year for their family.

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Her daughter had passed her learner's licence, she was ready to go on a gap year and had accepted a new job.

Martin too had accepted a new job, the first after years of looking after her children at home, but would find it too hard to continue in the wake of her daughter's death.

When others celebrated their teenagers going to school dances, how could she tell them she had been in Rotorua visiting her daughter's gravestone, Martin asked the court.

It was difficult to see her daughter's friends moving on to different milestones when her daughter's life was "tragically cut short at 17 years old".

She would never have a career, husband or children, Martin said.

Martin was "still haunted" by the days that followed the crash, and recalled the trauma of having to identify her "little girl" on the table at the morgue through a window.

"It's something no parent should have to do."

She had to call Richard Morrison, to tell him his daughter had died, Martin said.

She had to call her widowed mother to tell her the eldest granddaughter had died, she said.

"Many, many calls that should have never been made."

The night before the crash the family had been celebrating a birthday and "everything was as it should be", Martin recalled.

Morrison went out the door with the promise she would not be out too late, Martin said.

In the early hours of February 19 last year, Morrison would be instantly killed in a high speed two-car collision on the Northwestern Motorway in Auckland.

Then 18-year-old Samuel Malcolm Griffiths had pulled the handbrake while driving in excess of the speed limit, causing the two-car smash.

Devastated did not begin to describe it, Martin said.

"To say we were close was an understatement, Kiriana was my baby girl, my reason for living, my greatest achievement ..."

She was kind, loyal and generous, Martin said.

She underwent 15 surgeries in her short life and did it all without complaint, she said.

"She never felt sorry for herself, although she had every right to."

For Christmas, her little brothers had asked for a time machine to go back and save her, Martin said.

"As a family we are broken, we are parents without a daughter, brothers without a sister ..."

"The ripple effect of her loss is huge."

Morrison's father, Richard Morrison, also read his victim impact statement out in court today.

When they received the call from Martin, he and his partner had been crippled in disbelief - "this has to be a mistake".

"I so wanted to trade places."

It had been a long journey for the grieving family.

As a family they had released balloons to remember Morrison on what would have been her 18th birthday in August - "she so wanted to be 18."

Morrison spoke of the toll the loss had taken on the family.

"We don't laugh as readily anymore," he said.

The smallest thing could cause a snap argument, he said.

"We are here for your sentencing today Sam, but know we have already received ours ..."

The family continued to struggle with despair, anxiety and sleepless nights, he said.

"We still have our memories and that's all we have.

"We will forever miss the love of our life."

Morrison said it pleased his heart that Griffiths had taken responsibility for the crash - he acknowledged Griffiths was human and humans make mistakes.

Today, Justice Kit Toogood said Griffiths had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury.

To a significant degree it was the combination of youth and his personality disorders that contributed to the recklessness that caused Morrison's death, he said.

Justice Toogood said Griffiths had shown deep remorse and took full responsibility for his actions, calling Morrison's mother the day after the crash to apologise.

"How difficult must that have been for you both."

Justice Toogood sentenced Griffiths to one year of home detention, 400 hours of community work and disqualified him from driving for six years.

For dangerous driving causing injury he would also serve six months' home detention, which would be served concurrently.