Taranaki mother-of-two’s life goes ‘full circle’ with funeral to take place on her birthday


Robyn Bernet, pictured with dog Coaster, is burying her only daughter, Beth, on Friday. She wears her beanie often.

ANDY JACKSON/Stuff

Robyn Bernet, pictured with dog Coaster, is burying her only daughter, Beth, on Friday. She wears her beanie often.

A Taranaki-born mother-of-two will be laid to rest on her birthday – two months after she died in Australia.

Beth Bernet’s death in Adelaide on July 16 came as a shock to her New Plymouth family. She was 34 years old and it’s unexplained.

Covid-19 restrictions meant her family couldn’t be there for her sons when she died, they had to battle to get her body home, and then get her brother, who lives in Sweden, home, too.

It hasn’t been easy but it’s worked out as best it can for Beth, her mother Robyn said.

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Beth’s 35th birthday would have been on Friday, September 25. Instead, her funeral will be held that day in New Plymouth before she’s buried in Opunake.

Beth Bernet, 34, died in Australia on July 16, leaving behind sons Arthur, 6, and Fletcher Elliott, 3.

Supplied/Stuff

Beth Bernet, 34, died in Australia on July 16, leaving behind sons Arthur, 6, and Fletcher Elliott, 3.

Robyn said having the funeral on Beth’s birthday was like coming “full circle”, and the family didn’t plan to hold a wake until the Saturday as they had made plans for Friday.

“We are just going to have a private family ‘togetherness’ to celebrate her 35th birthday.”

The Bernets met Beth’s body at the Auckland Airport in late July.

Supplied/Stuff

The Bernets met Beth’s body at the Auckland Airport in late July.

Beth, who attended New Plymouth’s Sacred Heart Girls’ College, had been living in Australia since 2012.

She had two sons, Arthur, 6, and Fletcher Elliott, 3, but due to Covid-19 their father, who Beth was separated from, won’t risk bringing them back for her funeral.

Robyn is glad Taranaki will be in level 1 on Friday as she said it was stressful to choose a 100-person guest list for their “bubbly” Beth.

“It’s wrong, so wrong.”

Beth's sons won’t be attending her funeral due to the risks of Covid-19.

Supplied/Stuff

Beth’s sons won’t be attending her funeral due to the risks of Covid-19.

Beth’s funeral starts at 10.30am at the Te Henui Chapel, and she will be buried at Opunake at 1.30pm.

“She’s lying beside my mum and dad,” Robyn said. “In time, John and I will be on the other side.”

Robyn said it would the first time in more than a year that she, husband John, and sons Shay, Joel and Kade, and Beth had been together – and it breaks her heart that it’s the last.

Beth with her brother Joel, who flew home from Sweden with his family for the funeral.

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Beth with her brother Joel, who flew home from Sweden with his family for the funeral.

Joel, his partner Pernilla and baby daughter Alexandra have been out of managed isolation for almost two weeks after travelling from Sweden for the funeral.

Robyn said Alexandra was the family’s “bright little bubble”.

“It’s so incredible to have them here but you know why they are here.”

Robyn said she sat wishing that Beth could just get up and see the family, and meet her new niece, because she’s missing out.

Robyn said she’d been sent many letters and cards from people who had lost children and planned to hang them on her wall to read each day, to follow in their footsteps.

“Sadly someone will follow in mine one day.”

– The family still have a Givealittle called ‘Bring Our Beautiful Beth Home’ for ongoing costs. Robyn said if there’s anything left over she’ll be paying it forward to someone else in need.