TRAGIC DEATH: Gabriel Runge died in a crash during a New Zealand school hiking trip.
TRAGIC DEATH: Gabriel Runge died in a crash during a New Zealand school hiking trip. Contributed

Gabriel's powerful spirit mourned after NZ camp death

GABRIEL Conor Runge was a very proud Australian who was to have celebrated his 17th birthday this Australia Day.

This particular national day will be sadder than all others for Gabriel's family and friends, for on November 28, 2014, his family received the news of his tragic death in a road accident while participating in a school camp on New Zealand's North Island.

Gabriel's parents Pamela and Derrick and brother Godwin have been devastated by his early, untimely death just at the time when he was coming into his own, as a beautiful, gentle young man with a lifetime full of adventure and discovery ahead of him.

It was no coincidence that he was named after the angel "Gabriel" for that is who he was in real life - an angel who shone his light for all he touched. He had big brown sparkling eyes and an ever-smiling face full of joy that he shared with everyone in his world. He was helpful, supportive and always kind and considerate to all he knew.

Pamela recalls the ease and grace that he brought to her life whenever she was troubled and the sense of ensuing peace she felt - her everlasting memory will always be of the many, many tender hugs that he blessed her with.

Derrick remembers with fondness the many family movies, camping trips and music and is saddened by the realisation that they will never be the same without their beloved Gabriel.

For his older brother Godwin the bond of brotherhood and sharing the world of all things Tolkien will be truly missed.

Gabriel was inspired by trains, ships and travel and knew more about world geography than even his teacher. He could tell you the names of the world's capital and regional cities, the rivers and bays they were located on and even the names and details of the most significant buildings that distinguished them.

It was his dream to travel the world, visiting and exploring big cities and even remote locations to learn their language and culture. He was excited and motivated by every place on earth.

Rarely does one see creativity manifested in so many different mediums however Gabriel loved dancing and acting and he most aspired to be a world-famous singer.

Most of all though, Gabriel was inspired and excelled at writing and cartography and had for the past few years been working on a beautifully illustrated fantasy story. It is his family's desire that from his notes this will one day be completed as a tribute to him.

 

TRIBUTE to Gabriel Conor Runge by Shelley Davidow, English teacher, Noosa Pengari Steiner School

"Grief is the price we pay for love" - Queen Elizabeth II, September 2011.

And so, for Gabriel Runge, our price is enormous.

Gabriel has left a void that will never be filled. Every day, he brought laughter, joy and humour to our lives.

He was kind, compassionate, funny and full of heart. He went out of his way to make everyone feel at ease; his trademark warmth and openness meant that girls and guys, children and adults, loved being in his company.

Gabriel was so easy to love.

His eyes were always sparkling with interest, wit and laughter.

His laughter was so infectious that when he found his own jokes funny, he could even make us as teachers helplessly laugh with him.

He shared his heart with everyone and radiated the purest love.

Once Olivia and I, his Maths and English teachers, were walking along the walkway to the classrooms, and he pointed at us and called out, "I love those two!"

What kind of a teenager can do that?

One with a huge soul … that included everyone in its warmth.

Gabbie was gifted with a contagious joy. He was usually smiling or laughing, and his laughter came easily and often.

He was also mature beyond his years.

On a daily basis, Gabriel made everyone feel appreciated and understood.

Gabriel loved home and family more than anything.

He said to Jules on camp recently that he had a love/hate relationship with camps. He loved the experience of going on camp. But he also hated it because he always missed home so much.

You could feel with Gabbie how very much he loved his mum, his dad and his older brother … it was constantly evident in conversations with him that home was where this very special 16-year-old's heart was.

He also had a huge imaginative world. He loved The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Game of Thrones.

Like a true science-fiction writer, he spent hundreds of hours creating an authentic parallel world.

Gabbie mapped out a grand otherworldly vision, which he planned to one day write about.

His detailed drawings of this place spanned four pieces of A3 cardboard, and mapped out countries, mountain ranges and provinces, all written in an invented language.

The story of this world and its people was to follow one day.

Gabbie held in his imagination another limitless universe.

Gabbie loved trains. He loved geography. He loved New York City and dreamt of visiting there one day. He was a deep thinker, moved by the plight of people less fortunate than he was, and touched by books like To Kill a Mockingbird and I Am J.

The stories he wrote were growing more and more sophisticated. They were frequently set in foreign places and carefully researched, down to real street names and apartment numbers, and linked to historical events.

Gabriel was a great actor, a talented artist, a gifted writer, a creative thinker and a gentle, gentle, beautiful friend.

He was a treasure to us.

He showed us how to live a life of unbridled joy and connectedness.

We will miss him terribly and will treasure him always.

We will be tall, black-trunked Norfolk pines, holding home for you, our Superb Seabird Gabbie, even as waves shatter themselves against us, and the storms of life blow against us.



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