The rocks where Hamish Rieger was swept to sea have been adorned with bunches of colourful flowers as friends paid tribute to the happy, caring young man.
At least 100 young people gathered at Moturiki (Leisure) Island from 11am yesterday to pay tribute to the young man who lost his life on Saturday after being struck by a large wave near the island's blowhole.
Among them was Corey Ratcliffe, 17, who was taken under Hamish's wing when he arrived in Tauranga from England a few years ago.
"We went up there and saw everyone and greeted everyone. We were all talking about Hamish and how nice he was. Everyone was just taking their silence and thinking about him.
"It may sound cheesy, but it felt like he was watching over us."
Corey said Hamish was "one of a kind".
"I will miss his jokes the most. He was always cracking cheesy jokes. He liked to make people happy.
"I do miss him. He was really close to me a few years back, he helped me meet friends at school when I came from England."
It did not seem real that the 17-year-old was gone, Corey said.
"You hear about someone dying, but when it's someone you know, it just hits your heart."
Another of Hamish's friends said the gathering was silent as people remembered the teen.
"He only ever thought about anyone else."
A Givealittle page set up by Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service had raised $7192.04 for the Rieger family by 4pm yesterday.
The page read: "Hamish Rieger, much-loved member of the Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service, water polo gun, event guard extraordinaire and one of the loveliest 17-year-olds you'd ever wish to meet, died tragically when swept off the rocks near his beloved home beach.
"All proceeds will go to Greg and Donna and their beautiful clan, so they can put aside financial considerations and concentrate on grieving and healing."
Hamish's family posted on his Facebook page yesterday, saying a requiem mass for Hamish would be held at St Thomas More Catholic Church on Friday.
"It's with heavy hearts we begin the task of farewelling our much-loved son and cherished (though cheeky!) brother Hamish," the post read.
"Hamish was tragically taken from us on Saturday night. It's been tough beyond our comprehension but the support of family, friends and our wider communities has been extraordinary. We couldn't have got through this without you all."