28 Jul 2011

NZ-born girl confirmed dead in Norway attacks

9:37 pm on 28 July 2011

The parents of a New Zealand-born teenager confirmed to have been killed in the massacre in Norway have told of the excruciating pain of waiting for word of her fate.

Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn, who was 14, was on Utoeya island, northwest of Oslo, where a gunman on Friday shot 68 people at a summer camp for the Labour Party's youth wing.

Norwegian authorities on Wednesday confirmed that she had died in the attack.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, has admitted the shootings and an earlier bomb attack on government buildings in Oslo.

Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn was born in Palmerston North. She was partly of Norwegian descent and had been living in Norway since she was a baby.

In a statement released to media, her parents said it was impossible to describe the excruciating pain that they had felt as they waited for news from the authorities, but they were comforted by the knowledge that their daughter had been found and identified.

"Although our daughter was born in New Zealand she is of Norwegian descent and has been living in Norway since she was a baby," the statement said.

"She was a beautiful, caring and vigourous girl and was the oldest child of three.

"Sharidyn was a courageous young lady who took every challenge with ease. One of her strongest qualities was her ability to care for others.

"She was a proud big sister to her two younger sisters, and she loved to care for them as a big sister.

"With her big heart she had a lot of empathy for others, she was loyal and very good at giving support and comfort when others were facing difficulties."

The family said the teenager was extremely excited about going to Utoeya for the first time after being a member of AUF for the past year or so.

"From telephone conversations and a constant flow of text messages in the days leading up to her death, we know that she loved being together with her friends on the island which is why it is difficult to comprehend that her life ended so tragically."

Norwegian Labour MP Torgeir Micaelsen said Sharidyn - whose mother is a New Zealander - was full of joy and described her as too young to die.

Mr Micaelsen told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme that the family was now trying to take care of the teenager's sisters and, in the circumstances, was coping well.

He said the 14-year-old was the youngest confirmed to have died in the attacks.

A Facebook page set up in the teenager's memory has attracted 200 posts, many from New Zealanders expressing their sympathies to the family.