Otago Daily Times

Young Brooke ‘so full of love’

- SANDY EGGLESTON Supermodels · Celebrities · Western Australia · Australia

ONE spe­cial mem­ory Sharon Law­ton has of her niece, Brooke, is the day about 14 years ago, when she picked up a broom in the shear­ing shed.

Two weeks ago, Brooke Tuhakarain­a (19) was found dead in West­ern Aus­tralia.

Miss Law­ton, of Ran­giriri, said that as a child, her niece had been pot­ter­ing around in the wool­shed while the shear­ing gang was work­ing.

‘‘She was walk­ing around with her broom and bang­ing it and we started to teach her how to do it prop­erly and that’s when she started pick­ing it up nat­u­rally,’’ Miss Law­ton said.

Soon she was sweep­ing the board and putting the wool in the cor­rect place.

‘‘She started wool­han­dling when she was 5 years old,’’ Miss Law­ton said.

It was no won­der she en­joyed work­ing in the shear­ing shed, as her mother, La Mer To­hiariki, and fa­ther, Kelly Tuhakarain­a, both came from fam­i­lies who were ‘‘big names in the shear­ing in­dus­try’’.

Her niece was ‘‘so full of love’’, Miss Law­ton said.

‘‘She just had a beau­ti­ful out­look on life.

‘‘She was a happy­go­lucky kid.’’

Miss Tuhakarain­a had loved her fam­ily, es­pe­cially her young sis­ters, Kaycee, Mia and Nyree.

‘‘They were so im­por­tant to her,’’ Miss Law­ton said.

‘‘She was a beau­ti­ful sis­ter to them.’’

She was the sort of per­son who was al­ways help­ing oth­ers.

‘‘I used to growl [at] her for do­ing too much for peo­ple.’’

Miss Tuhakarain­a grew up in Gore, at­tend­ing Knap­dale Pri­mary School and then Gore High School.

She was also a mem­ber of the Calvin Com­mu­nity Church youth group.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing school in 2017, she worked in a fish­pro­cess­ing plant in Nel­son, but re­turned south to work with Miss Law­ton who is a wool classer.

Dur­ing a stint at Omarama, Miss Law­ton ex­plained how to clean the belly wool.

When it came time to deal with the bel­lies, Miss Tuhakarain­a had for­got­ten what to do. Rather than carry on, she set aside the bel­lies while she waited to find out.

‘‘It was so cute ’cause most kids would just chuck it in and not worry about it.

‘‘That was pre­cious to me.’’ Miss Tuhakarain­a went to Aus­tralia last year and had planned to come home sev­eral months later, but stayed to help a friend ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

When the Covid­19 sit­u­a­tion de­vel­oped she de­cided to stay where she was, be­cause to leave Aus­tralia she would have to fly from a city where many peo­ple had the virus.

While the fam­ily knew Miss Tuhakarain­a had not died in sus­pi­cious cir­cum­stances or taken her own life, which po­lice had con­firmed, they were wait­ing to hear of the cause of death, Miss Law­ton said.

Miss Tuhakarain­a’s pre­ma­ture death had been even harder to deal with be­cause some­one who did not know her cre­ated an on­line fundrais­ing page.

‘‘But not for Brooke — for them­selves.

‘‘It was pretty sick, ac­tu­ally.’’ — Gore En­sign

 ?? PHOTO: AL­LIED PRESS FILES ?? In the pink . . . Al­ways one to help out where needed, Brooke Tuhakarain­a (then 13) face­paints Kaila Wil­son (then 4) at chil­dren’s day held at the Gore mul­ti­sports com­plex in 2014.
PHOTO: AL­LIED PRESS FILES In the pink . . . Al­ways one to help out where needed, Brooke Tuhakarain­a (then 13) face­paints Kaila Wil­son (then 4) at chil­dren’s day held at the Gore mul­ti­sports com­plex in 2014.

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