A New Zealand woman and her dutch husband killed on the downed Malaysia Airlines flight were a “beautiful couple”.
MH17 was shot down over pro-Russian territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board on Thursday, including New Zealand resident Robert Ayley and a New Zealand woman Mary Menke and her Dutch husband Gerry Menke.
Mrs Menke, 65, was born in New Zealand and move Australia in her 20s.
She lived in Victoria with Mr Menke, 70.
The couple ran an abalone pearl company in Mallacoota, and Sunbury, which recently won an business award.
Jeanette Seignior of Business and Tourism East Gippsland said the Menkes’ loss would be a huge blow to the community.
“They are a beautiful couple, a lovely family,” Ms Seignior.
The couple had four children, Paul, Sara, Brett and Anna, according to media reports.
“We take comfort in the fact they were together and that’s how they would have wanted it to be,” they said in a statement.
Mr Ayley, originally from Guildford, Surrey, was living in Otaki with his wife Sharlene and children Seth, four, and Taylor, two.
“Rob was our everything,” Sharlene said in a statement on Facebook.
“He struggled to interpret body language and innuendo but he could understand his boys.”
He had been away for a month visiting rottweiler breeders in Europe.
New Zealand has asked a special meeting of the UN security council to ensure the crash site is protected so a thorough and credible international investigation can take place, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said on Saturday.
Two Newcastle United supporters, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, travelling to New Zealand to watch the English Premier League side play against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC this month were also on the plane.
The dead include 44 Malaysians, 28 Australians, nine Britons and 189 Dutch.