Cody Ayers was a son, brother, husband and friend - but what he was most proud of was being a father.

The 28-year-old died suddenly just over three weeks ago after suffering a heart attack in the early hours of Saturday, March 7.

The incident was witnessed by his wife, Maeroa Ayers, and the couple's 5-year-old son Tawhā. The three other children, aged 6 months to 3, slept through it.

To donate to Cody's wife and children, visit: Givealittle

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Ayers' sister, Samantha Ayers, says the family is still in shock and are especially hurt for the young family he has left behind.

"He was an amazing father. He took his kids everywhere.

"Every photo I have of him is at the park or the beach or the pools with the kids.

Cody Ayers with eldest son Tawhā, who celebrated his 5th birthday shortly before his father died last month. Photo / Supplied
Cody Ayers with eldest son Tawhā, who celebrated his 5th birthday shortly before his father died last month. Photo / Supplied

"He had a rough time growing up - but he changed that with his own little family," she said.

Ayers grew up in Papanui, in Christchurch, but spent time in Hamilton as well, where their mother lives.

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It was there he met the woman who became his wife six years ago, Maeroa. They would go on to have four children, sons Tawhā, 5, Nehemiah, 3, and 6-month-old Te whānau pani.

The couple have one daughter, one-year-old Ātaahua.

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Doting dad: Cody Ayers with his four children. Photo / Supplied
Doting dad: Cody Ayers with his four children. Photo / Supplied

Samantha Ayers says she and her brother's families saw each other every day as they lived close to each other in Christchurch. Their father also lives in the same city.

The family say they are grateful they were lucky enough to be able to hold a funeral for their son two weeks before the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown happened.

Cody Ayers with wife Maeroa Ayers on their wedding day six years ago. Photo / Supplied
Cody Ayers with wife Maeroa Ayers on their wedding day six years ago. Photo / Supplied

But now that they were all in lockdown, it has been hugely difficult not being able to come together to comfort one another and to grieve as a family.

Before the lockdown, Ayers' widow and children moved to Hamilton to self-isolate with family members there so they would not be on their own.

"She's not dealing well at all," Samantha Ayers said of her sister-in-law.

"Her whole life has been my brother and she doesn't know how to do this, raise her babies, without him."

'HE HAD SO MUCH TO GIVE, ESPECIALLY FOR HIS BABIES

Family members were doing their best to support one another from different parts of the city and country and have since set up a Givealittle page to help raise money for Ayers' young family.

Samantha Ayers said they were also still coming to terms with the fact her brother died of a heart attack.

There had never been any indication he may have had heart disease or any other heart condition," she said.

"I truly don't believe he should've been taken from us. He had so much to give - especially for his babies.

"I'm still in shock. I still can't believe that he's not here. I still don't think it's real."

To donate to Cody Ayers' family, visit: Givealittle