Rotorua's Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan spent much of her life helping others.

Today friends and family are preparing to say goodbye to the energetic 87-year-old who died on Tuesday morning last week after a crash involving her scooter and a car on the corner of Arawa and Rangiuru Sts.

Hawkes-Buchanan was heavily involved with community initiatives including volunteering for the Red Cross, the annual Christmas Day Community Lunch, visiting patients at Rotorua Hospital and being a part of the Kiwi Coffin Club.

Her son, Chris Hawkes, said his mother had helped others "since the beginning" and was known to many in the community.


She was still very active and lived at the family home right until the end, Hawkes said.

"She loved the ocean and swam everyday."

She would wake at 5 every morning and make her way to the pool to swim laps and Hawkes suspected this was where she was heading home from when the accident happened.

Always giving, she worked at the Red Cross seven days a week, danced twice a week and would often go to the hospital to keep patients company.

Hawkes said his mum was always "firm but fair" and despite always asking her to slow down in life, she never let up.

Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan volunteered at the Rotorua Christmas Day Community Lunch since it began. Photo / File
Francisca Hawkes-Buchanan volunteered at the Rotorua Christmas Day Community Lunch since it began. Photo / File

Hawkes-Buchanan grew up in Holland and worked as a nurse during the war.

She sailed to New Zealand by herself at age 18, with only one trunk, which was empty by the time she arrived, Hawkes said.

She met her soon-to-be husband in New Zealand and had four sons, later adopting another.


Hawkes said his mother was Catholic and he and his brothers all attended Catholic schools and went to church growing up.

She re-married after her first husband died and they had three more children.

The family bought and moved into their Rotorua home in 1972 and Hawkes-Buchanan had been a part of the community ever since.

She had been recognised for her selflessness in 2017 when she was given a Rotorua Lakes Council Community Award and a Kiwibank Local Heroes award for helping others.

She was a member of St Michael's church and could be found volunteering at the Christmas Day Community Lunch since it began.

"She was just a really good person," Hawkes said.

A service would be held today to celebrate Hawkes-Buchanan's life and she knew exactly what she wanted.

Hawkes said his mother had asked to be driven in his Chevy truck in the coffin she made at the Coffin Club, of course.