Aisi Tanielu-Loua last night reflected on her son Ezekiel's simple "love of learning" as she tried to comprehend the 12-year-old schoolboy becoming the 23rd fatality on New Zealand roads this week.
A crash between a car and truck on the intersection of Russley and Yaldhurst Rds in Christchurch claimed the lives of Ezekiel Loua and his 35-year-old uncle, Fulumoa Daly, in the early hours of Friday.
Three others were seriously injured in the crash, with one of Ezekiel's cousins, Zion, being flown from Christchurch to Auckland's Starship children's hospital last night.
Ezekiel had just moved from Christchurch to live permanently in Auckland in February this year, and was "really fitting in well" as a new Year 8 student at Otahuhu Intermediate.
"He loved the new school. He was just really intelligent and he had a love of learning. He loved fun facts," Aisi said.
"Oh, what wasn't Zeek like as a kid? He was a quirky, nerd, ha, who was into National Geographic and watching documentaries and just retaining all the information.
"But he would be a clown as well. Got along with everyone. He was good fun."
After moving to Auckland as a family, the Tanielu-Loua's were back in their hometown of Christchurch this week for Aisi's father's 70th Birthday.
The extended family were returning home from a late night family gathering in different cars when the accident happened early Friday morning.
Spared from the crash were Ezekiel's two younger sisters and brother, who were in another car.
"He was the oldest and would help with the little ones," Aisi said.
Among Ezekiel's love of nature, Aisi said her son's hobbies included "rugby, PlayStation, and dancing".
In particular, Ezekiel shared a passion for the Crusaders Super Rugby team, who he would go to support with his uncle Fulumoa - who was behind the wheel in the crash that claimed their lives.
Aisi said right now the focus of the family "is just to watch the boys who are in ICU" - her two nephews also in the car that crashed.
"The family, we're good, we're staying united and really supporting each other," Aisi said.
"We still have family travelling in. The family support has been awesome, friends from the rugby club, work colleagues, and especially our church community."
"We just want to say we're thankful for all the support and love."
In the week since Friday, March 29, 27 people were killed on New Zealand roads - making it the worst week-long road toll in 16 years.