Music, memories and emotions flowed yesterday as the life of Napier businessman Nic Magdalinos was commemorated by friends and family.

More than 600 people attended the funeral service held at the St John's Cathedral after the 36-year-old unexpectedly died last week.

After a moment of silence, Denis O'Reilly shared Rudyard Kipling's poem If'before fellow colleagues of Paris Magdalinos Architects paid tribute to their managing director.

The crowd learned Mr Magdalinos had studied and travelled before returning to Hawke's Bay in 2004, where his father, the late acclaimed modernist architect Paris Magdalinos, died just four years later aged 66.

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Not a qualified architect, he was eager to take over the management of his father's firm and soon ditched his ripped jeans and rugby jerseys for smart suits in undertaking the role with rigour and great determination.

"It was a dimension of Nic's life that he was utterly passionate about, enthusiastic, enterprising, intelligent, determined, very generous and very ambitious," PMA director Andrew Morrison said.

"I think what Nic was starting to do was develop a real confidence, professionalism and an experience as a result of that outstanding effort over the last nine years since his father died. A confidence and a real ambition to contribute and move into the future in a very constructive way."

Vania Bailey paid an emotional tribute to her fiance, with whom she shared 12 years and a daughter Akura.

"I will see you again Nic, not in this lifetime but the next. I will wait for you, you are my true love," she said.

Mr Magdalinos' mother, Bobbi Magdalinos, shared memories, most of them humorously deriving from his penchant for dressing up as a young boy whether it be a soldier or an American naval officer.

"He adored his father and he always wanted to be like his father and he turned into his father.

"I can remember him watching Paris shave early in the morning and he just looked up at his dad and said "Dad will I ever look like you?'."

Reflecting on her youngest son's life, she told the crowd he had taken it upon himself to look after her when she suffered a stroke.

"Please bear with me, my heart is breaking and I'm just speaking from my broken heart."

Both Paris Magdalinos junior and Anna Magdalinos described him as their brother and best friend.

"He was an honourable man and we've all suffered a huge rip in our universe with him not being here ... He was the youngest in our family but he was one we all looked up to and I cry for that massive loss," Ms Magdalinos said.

Paris Magdalinos junior reflected on the wild nights he had shared with his brother, an "absolute legend", but made special mention of his hard-working nature.

"The only thing that could compete with your sense of fun was your work ethic and your intellect. Your voracious work ethic, for you this ability was never ending. Hard-working, loyal, focused, driven, kind, fierce, diplomatic, energetic, charismatic, enigmatic, the list is infinite."