The brother of a White Island tour guide who died on Whakaari/White Island during the eruption has said it feels "fantastic" to have the recovery mission under way.
Police confirmed that six bodies have been successfully recovered from White Island and are now on board HMNZS Wellington.
Mark Inman, Hayden Marshall-Inman's brother, said it was a relief the operation was happening.
"It's going to allow us to grieve and send our loved ones off in the manner they deserve," he said.
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Inman said that three key people talked to the families on a personal level and heard their wants and needs and saw it from a human perspective.
He added that he had pushed for the recovery to happen and was happy authorities had listened.
Inman also thanked Ngāti Awa for giving the families the opportunity they needed to visit the island and have some closure.
"As a cultural thing, that's amazing. As a nation, we are blessed. The Australians on the boat with us, they felt it. They were inclusive. It was just incredible. I'm proud to be a Kiwi.
"There was a lot of emotion. It was very spiritual."
Inman said the way they were greeted when they returned from the island, with Ngāti Awa singing waiata, was "truly special" and that the visitors appreciated the welcome.
"[The tourists] got to share their side and culture as well. But they also expressed to the people on the boat how welcoming and humbled to be part of it all, which is truly a proud moment for New Zealand."
He added that the families are "100 per cent" with how the rescue mission is being handled.
"We're making progress and moving forward and that's all we want. We just want our loved ones back, so it's fantastic."