Saturday's memorial service for Kerikeri teenager Dion Hodder, who died of meningococcal disease at Auckland Hospital last week, has been moved from the St John ambulance station to the Turner Centre, to cater for the hundreds of mourners expected.

About 100 St John Youth members are expected from Auckland, with at least as many from Kerikeri High School, where he was a Year 12 student.

The service will start at 2.30pm.

Read more: Young man dies from meningococcal disease after attending camp on Motutapu Island


At the age of 16 Dion had well and truly begun making his mark on St John. Kerikeri station manager Nick Scott described him as a "really neat kid," who had shown a lot of promise as a future ambulance officer.

"He was a really positive, bubbly character. He was always very quick with a quip or a bit of ribbing. He was a really neat kid. He'll be missed for sure. It's a very tragic loss," he said.

"It's one of those things — you have to give your own kids an extra hug. You never know what's around the next corner.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with his family."

Dion, who had been part of St John in Kerikeri since he was "a wee nipper," had been talking to Mr Scott about the possibility of attending training sessions, and, once he turned 18, joining ambulance crews.

He had begun accumulating awards when he was a seven-year-old St John Penguin, placing first equal in his age division in a Northland-wide competition in Okaihau in 2009.

He was also a member of the Kerikeri Scouts.

Kerikeri High School principal Elizabeth Forgie said she spent Monday at the school with deputy principals and counsellors, preparing for the students' return. Every staff member had been phoned to ensure they were ready to talk to their classes.


A classroom had been set up with counsellors for students who needed support, and would remain available for as long as they were needed.

Mrs Forgie said she had been assured the risk to other students was low, but medical advice and contact numbers from the Northland DHB had been emailed to all families and whanau on Tuesday afternoon.

Her thoughts were also with Dion's family and friends.

"It's a big school but it's a warm-hearted, small community, so the school is really feeling it," she added.

Dion, who was one of 165 youngsters aged eight to 18 who were at the St John youth camp on Motutapu Island, fell ill on Saturday afternoon.

He was flown to Auckland City Hospital, where he died that night, despite receiving urgent medical treatment.