Tributes are pouring out for late Napier businessman Nic Magdalinos who died suddenly at his home on Friday.

The 36-year-old was the managing director of Paris Magdalinos Architects (PMA) and the son of the late acclaimed modernist architect Paris Magdalinos.

The death was thought to be an accident.

Those who knew him have spoken of a man working to improve the lives of his friends and family, the city of Napier, and its residents.

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Social activist Denis O'Reilly paid tribute to the "vivacious" father-of-one, who was "highly intelligent, extremely kind, and fabulous company".

"I'm devastated," he said yesterday. "[It was] such a random thing, he was in his absolute prime."

Mr Magdalinos had a brilliant head for business and had led other young members of the Hawke's Bay business sector, said Mr O'Reilly.

"He was part of a movement to build a better Hawke's Bay but beyond that, a better Aotearoa."

Mr O'Reilly knew the 36-year-old through his family's long-running connection with families in the Waiohiki area.

"Nic carried on his father's commitment to building an inclusive society where Maori and Pakeha collaborated and enjoyed each other's company. He became a key figure in the redevelopment of the Waiohiki Marae and in that the building of the new wharenui."

One of Mr Magdalinos' legacies would be the new Waiohiki whare. Mr O'Reilly said they hoped to host him there, to give him a fitting tribute.

"We'll stay strong with each other, look after each other, be kind to each other, and we'll honour him.

"We'll honour him by finishing the work that he and his father started."

Te Awanga photographer and friend Richard Brimer remembered Mr Magdalinos as having "the biggest heart".

"He was one of those people you could depend on," he said. Among his fondest memories was of Mr Magdalinos' support after Mr Brimer's son, Joseph, passed away in 2013.

"[We had] a massive disaster in my family and he was the first...Nic would be the first to be there. From someone that was a lot younger than myself, it was really nice to have that relationship."

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton had been friends with the elder Mr Magdalinos, and had known Nic for his entire life, as he was born in the years between the births of Mr Dalton's sons.

"They grew up together, they went to university together. I've known Nic since he was a kid and I've known the Magdalinos family for many years. It's very, very sad.

"He was a typical Magdalinos, he was absolutely passionate about everything he did, and he did everything at 100 miles an hour plus."

As well as the personal connection, Mr Dalton had worked alongside Mr Magdalinos during his days as the chairman of Inner City Marketing in Napier, and with his firm on a number of projects including the Marine Parade redevelopment for Napier City Council, redevelopment of the former Napier Hospital site and the airport terminal redevelopment.

Nic Magdalinos on the site of Napier Hospital's former Arohina maternity wing.
Nic Magdalinos on the site of Napier Hospital's former Arohina maternity wing.

Mr Magdalinos is survived by his partner Vania, daughter Akura, sister Anna, brother Paris Junior and mother Bobbi.

After attending Lindisfarne College, he completed a history and political studies degree and postgraduate papers in business and property.

He then spent a year in his mother's native Ireland before returning to Hawke's Bay at the start of 2004 where he was tasked to put a commercial framework on PMA.

He had been managing director of his father's 1989 company, PMA, since 2008, the year Paris died from cancer aged 66, just eight days after diagnosis.

He was also chairman of the Hawke's Bay Branch of Property Council of New Zealand, an affiliated member of New Zealand Institute of Architects and one of the original drivers of lobby group A Better Hawke's Bay.