A toddler who died after being struck by a vehicle in a driveway just before Christmas has been remembered as a bubbly boy with a "beautiful smile".

Eighteen-month-old Tahi Henderson from Auckland died in the tragic accident in the Southland town of Mataura at 4.50pm on December 21.

His body was flown home on Christmas Eve before he was laid to rest at Otamatea Marae on Kaipara Harbour.

The nehu, or burial, was held yesterday.


Mataura Community Board member Steve Dixon earlier said the tight-knit community was upset by the news.

"People are pretty gutted, because the family is well known in town."

Many who knew Tahi or his whanau have paid tribute to him on social media.

They speak of a happy, smiling child who will be well missed.

"Hoki mai e te tau Tahi you have touched the hearts of so many," one said. "May you shine your big beautiful smile from the heavens. Until we meet again Tahi."

Tawhiri Littlejohn said the "precious baby boy" will be "sadly missed and deeply loved forever".

Tahi's kindy is also mourning the loss.

In an emotional Facebook update on December 23, it said: "While many of our families are excitedly preparing for a festive Christmas celebration and New Year's, one of our whanau is going through a difficult time after losing a child.


"This morning we were informed of the passing away of one of our youngest children. Tahi Henderson. Tahi was a beautiful, lively, bubbly little individual with a heart of gold," it said.

"To the Henderson family, we send our deepest condolences and aroha. Our thoughts and prays [sic] are with you all. To the rest of our community, over the coming days there may be some changes as teachers require time to grieve over this tragedy."