The teenage victim of a shark attack has been farewelled in a private ceremony, her casket adorned in a special memento from the same beach where she lost her life.
Kaelah Marlow, who died last Thursday at Bowentown Beach after being attacked in the water, was yesterday described by heartbroken family as an “adventurous young woman” as intimate gatherings took place on either side of the Tasman.
The Hamilton teenager’s casket was decorated with a heart-shape wreath, fashioned from shells collected from the Bay of Plenty beach and a tag that simply read “Aroha Waihi Beach”.
In a photo posted to a community Facebook page, heartfelt messages from friends and family in English and te reo covered her coffin lid.
“I promise to think of you every day. Forever and always,” wrote one friend.
“Okioki ki peraraiha,” read another, which translates to rest in paradise.
Yesterday’s gathering was restricted to those closest to the 19-year-old who had moved to New Zealand five years ago with her parents, Robert and Michelle, and 17-year-old sister Georgia.
While a funeral took place in New Zealand extended family in Perth also gathered to farewell the much-loved teen.
The West Australian said a statement released by family remembered her as an “adventurous young woman”.
As her daughter was laid to rest grieving mother Michelle Marlow yesterday thanked the Bowentown and Waihi communities for their support since losing”our beautiful girl”.
“Today we farewelled our beautiful girl. Once again Rob, Georgia and myself would like to say many thanks for the overwhelming support we have received from Bowentown and the Waihi community,” she posted on the Waihi Beach noticeboard Facebook page.
She shared a picture of the coffin and the handcrafted wreath, that had previously formed part of a beachside memorial to mark her daughter’s death.
Earlier this week she shared a message of heartfelt thanks recognising the efforts of surf lifeguards and strangers on the beach who tried to save her daughter.
“To the community, and Surf Lifesaving of Waihi beach many thanks for your support and helping my beautiful girl Kaelah,” she wrote.
She also thanked the person or people behind the shell heart, saying she appreciated the wonderful gesture and would be including it in her daughter’s funeral.
Soon after the attack Marlow’s aunt Kylie French told the West Australian family were in shock at the death with Covid quarantine preventing the family for travelling across the Tasman to be with each other.
“I’m just in shock, everyone is just in shock. We can’t get over there. Mum can’t get over there,” she said.
“You hear about shark attacks, but never in a million years you think it’ll be someone you know. She was obviously out with her friends having a great time. She was a lovely girl, a fun girl, always bubbly, into anything.”
Marlow had been living in Cambridge and working on a farm after previously studying a trade apprenticeship, French said.
The family had lived in Perth before moving to Tom Price in Western Australia for Marlow’s father’s mining work.
He and Marlow’s mother and sister Georgia moved to Dunedin this past Christmas.
A rahui was placed on the beach in the days following her death before it was lifted on Sunday.
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