Mum’s heartbreak after spa pool tragedy: ‘Now she is singing at the feet of God’

A woman described as a “beautiful taonga” and on the verge of starting a fresh chapter in her life has tragically died taking a late night dip in a spa.

Roxi Ansari, originally from South Carolina, was looking forward to leaving her adopted home of Whangarei bound for a new job in Gisborne.

Instead, her devastated family have watched her being farewelled on a livestreamed church service from 13,500km away after she drowned on October 7 due to a medical episode.

It’s since emerged the 35-year-old youth worker was suffering from an undiagnosed brain tumour.

Her heartbroken American-based mother Constance Hanna has been left in shock by the events of the past week, but takes comfort her “bubbly” daughter packed so much into her time on earth, determined to make life better for everyone.

“Roxi lived her life for the Lord. She would not compromise her faith or beliefs. She lived each day to the fullest and without regret. Now she is singing at the feet of God.”

The family were now preparing to celebrate her life in South Carolina this weekend, with an outdoor memorial planned at a picnic site near a stream.

Hanna said on the night her daughter died she had spent an evening with friends before travelling to Gisborne.

“She came back to pick up some things and have the farewell party. She should have been going back within the next day or so,” said Hanna.

“When she came back from her farewell party she said, ‘My back is hurting, I’ll just go and take a spa and then I’ll go to bed’. The next morning the lady heard her alarm going off and found her.”

An autopsy revealed Ansari had a brain tumour which medical experts believed triggered a seizure when she was in the pool.

Police confirmed they were called to a sudden death at an address on Karoro Rd, One Tree Point, shortly before 5.30am on October 7.

The death had been referred to the Coroner.

While it was difficult to accept she had died, Hanna said there was an element of comfort knowing that her daughter did not suffer, having no idea what has happening internally.

“She literally fell asleep and woke up in the arms of the Lord,” said Hanna.

The pair had spoken with each other the week before in a quick catch-up before she embarked on her new mission in the land that had become her “heartfelt home”.

“She had spoken with me about trying to start something in order to help troubled youth and families. Anything she could do to help people, that was her heart,” said her mum.

Up until last month Ansari had worked with the government’s He Poutama Rangatahi initiative, a programme to get Northland youth into jobs and training.

Hanna said the family were moved by the steps taken to honour Roxi in the wake of her death. This included a tangi in Kaikohe at Kohewhata Marae and a funeral service at C3 Church in Whangarei.

“My whole family is just in awe in the way Roxi was grafted in. She had so many people she called sis, or cuzzie or aunty. They loved her as if she was one of their own. We have been overwhelmed by everything that has been done for her and how she was treated,” said Hanna. “There are no words to say thank you enough.”

She described her daughter, a devout Christian who had studied praise and worship at Hillsong Church in Australia, as dedicating her life to helping others and making an impact on people wherever she went.

In recent days Hanna had been inundated by messages from people across the globe in disbelief at the tragedy.It included those from her daughter’s New Zealand C3 church family who were reeling from the events of the past week.

“It was a shock to everybody. It’s been quite difficult.”

She thanked everyone for their generosity, special memories and prayers during this difficult time.

“There are so many comments and wonderful words. She was truly amazing. Thank you all for loving her and accepting her and keeping her,” she earlier wrote on Facebook to well wishers.

Ansari’s aunt Cheryl Hudson said she loved living in New Zealand, a place where her heart felt at home.

“I had just FaceTimed with her the week before her passing and she was so excited for her new journey.

“She will be so missed.”

In a Facebook post, C3 pastor Trent Membrey, who took Monday’s funeral service, said Ansari’s death was a terrible loss.

“It’s such a tragedy and it’s really, really sad,” he said.

It came as she was about to embark on an exciting new chapter in her life, shifting to the east coast of the North Island.

“As most of you will know in the past couple of days she was talking about a move to Gisborne and a new season. Maybe her new season is about to be her best season with our Lord in eternity.”

He paid tribute to the parishioner, saying she was a beautiful friend, sister and leader who impacted a lot of people’s lives.

“We love Roxi so much. A beautiful, amazing girl. Beautiful gifts, beautiful talents. She was definitely a one off.”

One of those feeling her loss keenly, friend Rachel McGillan, said Ansari did much for young people and everyone she knew.

“A beautiful taonga Rox has been to so many of us,” she wrote.

The church and family have set up crowdfunding to help pay for funeral and related costs with $11,458.74raised on the Givealittle site and $10,488 on a Family Fundraiser Facebook page launched in the US.

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