“After a decade of being a FIFO [fly in fly out] family the Hakiwai family were in the process of moving to Melbourne so they could be together and have their Dad home every night,” the family said in a statement provided to The Age.
“They moved there to start a life and instead a life was taken.
“Melbourne was to be the dream come true after years of FIFO and instead it has turned into an unimaginable nightmare.”
The two brothers were described as best friends who spent all their time together.
“Maaka and Nate were not only brothers they were best friends who did everything together, born less than a year apart the boys were inseparable and loved by all who knew them,” the family said.
“Both boys had immense love for their family, were devoted brothers and protectors of their two younger sisters.”
Nate was the eldest of the four children.
“Maaka our baby boy, pure evil has taken you from us at 17 years young. Your brother and best mate Nate continues to fight in hospital. We love you, our son, brother, grandson, nephew and our dear friend,” the family wrote.
“Fly high baby boy, we love you more than words can express.”
A police spokesman said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
On Saturday, locals Loren and Lee Howard ran into the street when emergency services arrived after the stabbing
Ms Howard, 31, said pools of blood were visible, and people who appeared to be family members of one of the boys rushed out with towels to treat their wounds.
“One boy was just lying in a pool of blood and people were rushing out to try and save him,” she said.
“We saw family yelling as ambulances arrived … there was lots of crying and screaming.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
With Paul Sakkal
Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.