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Malcolm Campbell was due to marry his Kiwi fiancee Amanda Shields on December 18.
The 25-year-old Scotsman was originally from St Andrews in Fife.
Ian Jones, rector of Malcolm's former school, Madras College in St Andrews, told the BBC there was an air of despondency across the campus, where Malcolm's aunt also works.
"Staff remember Malcolm as a very friendly, cheerful boy, who was very hardworking," he said.
"Our sympathies lie with his parents, fiancee and family at this very difficult time."
Malcolm's father told the Sunday Express his son had found work after travelling abroad with a cousin.
They had spent two years working in Australian gold mines before coming to the Pike River coal mine on the West Coast, he said.
Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall said he had spoken to Malcolm's parents.
"I've spoken to one of the families in Scotland... and I could relay very personally the state of that guy and what a joy he is to work with," he said.
The elder Mr Campbell described his son as easy-going and hard-working to Scotland's STV News.