The family of the Southland nine-year-old murdered by his teen babysitter have given an emotional statement as his killer was sentenced.
Sixteen-year-old Daniel Cameron was just 15 when he brutally murdered Hunter MacIntosh last year, stabbing him multiple times with a 25cm knife.
On Monday he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years in the Invercargill High Court.
But Hunter's family says this will never bring him back.
"Today's sentencing is another small step on a very long journey for us and no punishment administered by the justice system will ever allow us to see Hunter's beautiful smile again, nor does it dull the extreme pain we all feel everyday he is not here. We all miss him so very much," they said in a statement.
"Hunter now has a wee brother who will never know him and his cousins still cry when he is not there. Time has not yet eased any of the pain caused by this senseless act and we still wait for an explanation as to what happened and why."
Speaking in court for her victim impact statement, Hunter's mother gave a harrowing victim impact statement, saying the pain never ends.
"The feelings of loss are so strong that I wonder how I can keep living," she said.
"I have no regrets except leaving him with Daniel that evening... I will never forgive myself and I have to live with that forever."
And the boy's aunt said her nephew's murder "ripped apart" her world.
"I was in shock and disbelief at how someone could be so hurtful... to take someone away from this world."
'Senseless and needless murder'
Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy also provided a statement on behalf of the New Zealand Police.
"I want to today acknowledge the sentencing of Daniel Cameron, who senselessly and needlessly murdered Hunter MacIntosh," he said.
"I have gotten to know Hunter's family over the last several months and they have shown remarkable strength in the face of incredible tragedy.
"Today's sentencing may be the end of the court process but it will not be the end of their grief.
"Although I know the result can't bring back Hunter, my hope is that it will help them to process what has happened."