Andrew Friend's last name was also one of the best descriptors of the popular Kiwi ex-Air Force pilot.

His mum, Cheryl, remembered him as "an easygoing, loving, happy and generous child" who made and kept friends easily.

To his dad, Michael, "he was one of the good guys, wise beyond his years, a natural leader".

The 32-year-old, who died from pancreatic cancer last week, will be mourned in New Zealand and in Sweden, where wife Linn is based.

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He will be farewelled on Saturday at a memorial at the Whenuapai Air Force base. However Linn won't be among those gathered there because she is 28 weeks pregnant with the couple's first child.

Friend's passion for aviation began long before he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force at 19.

"From an early age, Andrew had his eyes to the sky and loved all things to do with aviation," his sister Jessica said.

Michael recalled his son playing flight simulator computer games as a young boy, before joining the Young Eagles Club at Ardmore where he flew fixed-wing aircraft and gliders.

Later, Friend's love of flying took him abroad, to Melbourne, Sydney and most recently Dubai where he worked as an air traffic controller.

But he never forgot where home was.

"He was an avid, loyal All Blacks fan and loved seeing the All Blacks beat the Wallabies," Jessica said.

Friend wasn't one to sit on the sidelines though. Michael described him as a "keen sportsman" who played rugby and tennis at representative level.

But he met Linn while playing a different game - pool - at a bar in Sydney.

The pair were together for eight years, marrying in Koh Samui, Thailand, in 2013.

Jessica said her brother was looking forward to becoming a father next year.

He was robbed of the chance by a devastating diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, as well as tumours in his liver and spleen.

Doctors told Friend the cancer was inoperable and chemotherapy would not work long term, so he began exploring alternative treatments in Mexico and Europe, Michael said.

Friend was in Sweden for the Northern Hemisphere summer when he died on October 23.

Cheryl said the family were "absolutely devastated and just doing our best to cope with the tragic loss of our very much loved son and brother".