The sister of Sean McKinnon, an Australian tourist who was killed inside a campervan in Raglan, north of Hamilton, yesterday has described him as "a real character."
"Sean was a wonderful person, and we loved him very deeply," Emmeline McKinnon told reporters outside the Hamilton District Court today, where a man, 23, appeared in court charged with Mr McKinnon's murder.
She was joined outside the court by Mr McKinnon's older siblings.
"I was devastated to hear that his life had been taken from him. The worst thing was telling my mother," she said. "I think he was my mum’s favourite – which is OK, because mums have favourites, we just don't tell them that everyone knows."
Ms McKinnon said he was a frequent traveller who loved staying in the country, which he visited regularly to see his fiancée, who was based in New Zealand.
"We're just really sorry that he's gone. He loved being over here, he loved the surf here, he loved the lifestyle, the place and we're glad he wasn't too far from home and we're going to miss him a lot for sure."
Ms McKinnon said the siblings' "first priority" was to see Mr McKinnon's fiancée upon their arrival in New Zealand.
"[His fiancée] Bianca is amazingly resilient and strong. I cannot even begin to understand what she’s gone through as a person and she’s a really strong young woman."
She said it was important for Mr McKinnon's siblings to travel to New Zealand for the court proceedings because they "just didn't want Sean to just be just a face."
"[He] has a family, is very well-loved. He's a real character and we just don't even know how to begin to put life together without him being here."
Ms McKinnon said while she is able to better cope with the family's loss due to her work in law enforcement, you "don't ever think it's going to happen to you".
"You see enough of life to know these things transpire. You don't ever think it's going to happen to you. I've certainly been on the end of giving death notifications to family members and I’ve had that experience … You just wish It was anybody other than yourself but it's inescapable."