17 Oct 2009

Hundreds attend funeral of Auckland toddler

6:07 am on 17 October 2009

Hundreds of mourners have attended the funeral of west Auckland toddler Aisling Symes.

The body of the two-year-old was found in a stormwater drain on Monday evening, a week after she went missing.

Extra rooms and seating areas were set up outside the Ranui Baptist Church in Henderson to cope with the crowd of about 300 on Friday.

The family says the death has left a hole in their hearts.

Aisling's uncle David Ball described his niece as a blessing, a joy and a "little monkey" at times. He told the congregation her name meant vision of heaven.

He also acknowledged the help and support New Zealanders had offered his family in the past fortnight.

The toddler's parents, Alan and Angela, acted as pallbearers, though they did not speak at the ceremony.

Several white doves were released as Aisling's white coffin, draped with the New Zealand and Irish flags and with her teddy bear sitting on top, was placed in the hearse.

Volunteers who took part in the massive search for the toddler and many of the officers involved in the inquiry attended the service.