The family of the soldier killed in a hunting accident last week say they are devastated by the loss of the young man who "lived life to the full".
Danny Rion Jordan was hunting in the Ruahine Ranges with two Army friends on Thursday when he was shot accidentally by another hunter who was not part of his hunting group.
The New Zealand Defence Force released a statement on behalf of the 23-year-old's family, who said they were "devastated at the loss of our beloved Danny".
"We are comforted by the love and support of so many. Our hearts and thanks go out to his two mates who dealt with his passing as a result of a hunting accident in the Ruahine Ranges on DOC land," the statement said.
"Our Danny lived life to the full, never a dull moment. From fishing, diving, work, friends, family, and his passion of hunting. Danny grew up in Waiuku and that is where we will celebrate his life.
"Danny has a huge family in the Army, brothers to share adventures with. We are blessed with the amazing support the Army has given us, making an impossible time a time of love, support, and space to grieve. Also our thanks to the Police and special mention to Detective Sergeant Glen Yule from Hastings Police.
"Danny was a loving, loveable, and respectful young man who gave to so many in so many different ways. We are feeling all the love that Danny had given to so many, which is now being returned to us and we are eternally grateful."
The Defence Force said Sapper Jordan's family asked for privacy while they come to terms with their loss and grieve for their loved one.
Detective Sergeant Jason Crowe said Mr Jordan was shot as he and his two friends were sitting on the Sparrowhawk bivouac walking track.
While most hunting accidents occurred in heavy bush or rugged terrain, this one occurred in open bush on a DOC track used to access the Ruahine Range.
Police are urging all hunters to exercise extreme caution in the bush and not to get carried away by the start of the new hunting season.
"Don't let the excitement of the roar affect your ability to make the right safety decisions. As this case illustrates, a small mistake can have fatal consequences."
There are seven basic rules covered in the Firearms Safety Code that hunters should abide by, including identifying your target properly and handling firearms safely. "We can't stress enough the importance of these rules and urge anyone using firearms to follow them to the letter," Mr Crowe said.