A school community near Matamata, New Zealand, has been left in shock after seven-year-old Ellie Kurth died on the premises.
Ellie’s father, Jeremy Kurth, is principal of Walton School, and her mother, Brenna Kurth, is a senior teacher there.
The school was celebrating Matariki, a traditional Maori celebration, with a hangi – an outdoor cooking method using heated rocks in a pit – on the school grounds when Ellie suddenly required urgent medical attention.
Emergency services prepared to airlift the child to hospital via helicopter, but she died on the school grounds.
A police media spokesperson confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that Ellie died “from a medical event” and her death has been referred to the coroner.
Details as to cause of death are scarce, but Stuff.co.nz reports that Ellie suffered from a rare skin condition, for which she received regular hospital treatment.
A death notice in the Waikato Times describes Ellie as a “beautiful spirit” who was “so special to so many people and brought laughter and light to our lives.”
A separate notice in the New Zealand Herald called for “toys and arty resources” to be donated at the funeral, held today, in lieu of flowers. The family intends to donate them to Kidzfirst Middlemore Hospital.
Our thoughts are with the Kurtz family and Walton School community.