A Dutch couple coming to New Zealand to visit their Taupo-based daughter on a "trip of a lifetime" were among those killed on MH17.

Hendrik-Jan "Henk" Tournier and his wife Ineke Westerveld planned to spend six weeks with Tournier's daughter Nanda Bright, and her two sons.

Gallery: The faces behind the tragedy of flight MH17

Bright, who works as a teacher aide at Marotiri School, and her Kiwi builder husband Regan Bright had returned here in the last year after living in the Netherlands for almost 20 years.


Regan Bright said they were not ready to comment when contacted yesterday.

His father Steve Bright said his wife had gone to console his son and daughter-in-law. "They're obviously devastated."

She had been in contact with her sister and other family members in the Netherlands, he said.

"They were going to stay with Regan and Nanda for a good amount of time. That was their reason for coming of course, but also see the rest of New Zealand.

Henk Tournier and his wife Ineke Westerveld.

Expat Dutch journalist Martine Rolls-Pierhagen said she had known the couple for almost 15 years.

"She of course is going through a very difficult time.

"They were looking forward to nana and pop coming over [and] seeing the children.

"It's a big trip, and for a lot of Dutch people that come here it's a trip of a lifetime. It's just a really sad time for everyone."

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Meanwhile, 29-year-old Otaki man Robert Ayley was running late for MH17. He emailed wife Sharlene back at home to tell her he'd missed the bus to Amsterdam Airport. Somehow, he still made it.

"We'd desperately hoped he'd missed it," his mother Wendie Ayley told the Herald on Sunday at her home in Tawa yesterday.

"We thought he'll be sitting in Amsterdam Airport thinking 'how do I ask them for more money for another flight home?'

"We emailed him and said, 'It's ok we will pay for another flight, your flight got shot down'. But he was on it."

Ayley's wife Sharlene and his two sons, Seth, 4, and Taylor, 2, have been staying with his parents Wendie and John and younger brother Tom, 26, since hearing news of the tragedy.

Wendie contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, who confirmed her son was on the downed plane.

"She's very, very sad. Rob was her life. Sharlene says they changed their lives together. They were on some slippery slopes when they met," said Wendie.

The two little boys are still too young to understand. They are still waiting for their dad to come home.

"Truly, the most important thing in his life was Sharlene and the boys. Everything that he was doing was to give them a future," said Wendie.

"He was a great dad. Because of the Aspergers he was an adult child. He loved rolling around on the floor with his boys."

Ayley - a British citizen who'd lived here since he was two - was studying chemical engineering at Massey University.

It was a big step for the "fun-loving" father who had traded in his boy racer wheels for a red station wagon - his "family man car" - when he married Sharlene.

He left school at 16 and had worked minimum wage jobs ever since, first at McDonald's, as a horticulturalist and a "sort of" cheese-maker at Kapiti Cheeses.

He decided to get an education for his family.

Ayley also loved rottweiler dogs and was travelling to see some. The inspiration to breed the dogs with a pure blood line and good temperament came from his first rottweiler Madison who he'd had since she was a puppy. She now sits docilely at Wendie's feet at the Tawa home.

Robert Ayley bred Rottweiler dogs.

Although Ayley had been gone for more than a month he sent many long emails to his mother saying he was "having a ball". His last email came just hours before he boarded his plane home.

"Right now, I'm just looking forward to seeing the boys and Sharlene. It's been a long, long journey.

"I hope all is well, if we don't talk before hand, I will see you on Saturday. Lots of Love. Rob."

Wendie doesn't harbour any anger toward Malaysia Airlines or those responsible for shooting the missile that killed her son.

"It was a random act. It was one missile. I don't think they targeted that plane specially.

"My boy died in the sky. It's a beautiful place to die. Way up high, happy that he was coming home."