Tattoo apprentice Matthew Stuart McEachen (Matti) died as Southern Ink Tattoo in Manchester St came crashing to the ground.
Matti's colleague Bonnie Singh survived and was hospitalised with a broken back and fractured neck after crawling out of the rubble.
According to Southern Ink Tattoo's Facebook page, staff members Matt Parkin and Emma Rox "dodged raining bricks and collapsing walls to make it safe out on to the street".
"But it was too late for Matti. It came down so fast there was nothing anybody could have done," a staff member said.
Tributes for Matti, 25, who attended Papanui High School and the Design and Arts College of New Zealand, poured on to the internet after his death was confirmed yesterday.
"We feel blessed to have known such a great person who was full of only love, was so dedicated to the art of tattooing. He touched our lives in such a way that we will learn from his actions and his positive outlook on life," wrote a friend.
Mr Parkin wrote on his Facebook page: "I'm alive, by literally a hair's breadth. Southern Ink has crumbled to the ground. I have lost a friend who was very dear to me."