On Monday, Karter Kapu-ai-waho Jarmie Fraser should be celebrating his first birthday with friends and family.

Instead, his parents, their whānau and friends will today remember the short life of the baby with the beautiful smile through a sports tournament.

It's been seven months since Karter died suddenly.

On April 22 this year Karter's mum Toni Paul and her partner Te Rangi Fraser put their son to bed as they had done 154 nights before. But when they went to go to bed themselves, Fraser found little Karter unresponsive.

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Sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI) was cruel, Paul said.

It gives no answers to grieving parents.

"One day it just happens.

"There are no warnings, there are no reasons why, all there are is questions that can never be answered," she said.

"That was it.

Toni Paul and her partner Te Rangi Fraser. Photo / Supplied
Toni Paul and her partner Te Rangi Fraser. Photo / Supplied

"He was a happy baby. He could roll, he could support himself and was almost sitting up, he smiled, he was a little character, and he was part of the family.

"And then he wasn't there any more."

The Karter Memorial Shield is an invitational sports tournament being held today and described as a "moment to remember" Karter and all other babies who have died as a result of SUDI.

Other than a visit by a woman from the Coroner's office, Paul and Fraser were left alone with their overwhelming grief. Paul admits they weren't coping.

"It was my mum who sorted counselling sessions. The first six were free and we weren't aware it was available to us, nobody had said.

"It's almost like SUDI is a taboo subject, nobody talks about it unless you're talking to someone who has experienced it themselves."

Paul said a person from Maketu, where the couple now live, gave them a lot of support as they had gone through the loss of a child to SUDI.

Karter Kapu-ai-waho Jarmie Fraser was born on November 22. Photo / Supplied
Karter Kapu-ai-waho Jarmie Fraser was born on November 22. Photo / Supplied

"Since then we have also learned people we know have experienced SUDI but we had no clue before our own journey with Karter's death."

The night Karter died, Paul said almost all of Maketu came to the house to offer their condolences.

"We've been living in Maketu for five years and the community here is awesome. But I'm Rotorua born and bred and both Te Rangi and I played for Whakarewarewa for years.

"That's why the Karter Memorial Shield is being held at Whakarewarewa today."

According to friends, both played sport at a high level.

Fraser wore the Steamers jersey as well as the Whakarewarewa strip while Paul played for the winning Ngongotahā team that took out the Tauranga competition and used to play for the top Whakarewarewa side that used to win the Rotorua competition every year.

Women's netball, men's rugby and euchre will be contested as part of today's tournament. The entry fee will go towards a charitable trust Paul and Fraser are establishing to help families dealing with SUDI.

"There wasn't really anything there for us and we want to make sure there is for others who need help. Especially with those trying to understand or make sense of what has happened without any answers."

Paul said the tournament was a celebration of Karter's short life, an acknowledgement of his first birthday and an opportunity to raise awareness of SUDI.

"We have asked people to bring along a photo of a loved one who has died as part of moment to remember theme."

What is SUDI?
• SUDI stands for sudden unexplained death in infancy. Between 40 and 60 babies will die of SUDI in New Zealand each year.
• Knowing the risk factors means you can take steps to lower the risk of SUDI for your pēpē (baby).
• The three main risk factors are smoking while pregnant, bed sharing and the position of your baby when sleeping.
• The four key steps to follow to help you keep your baby safe from SUDI spell PEPE: place baby in their own baby bed, eliminate smoking in pregnancy, position baby flat on their back to sleep, encourage and support breastfeeding.