WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT SUICIDE AND MAY BE DISTRESSING AND/OR TRIGGERING.

"He absolutely loved surfing, being out in the ocean was the one place he was really free, just confident to be who he was."

The life of Tauranga man Stephen McNeil-Wilson was honoured at Mount Maunganui beach with a paddle out to acknowledge his life and his love of surfing.

Around fifty members of the community gathered for the memorial service for Stephen who took his own life last Saturday.

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"We want to get the message out here that people are loved, people care about you, there are so many people who love Stephen, who cared about Stephen and who are so upset about it," Stephen's Mentor, Krista Davis said.

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