An Auckland boy who was killed in a go-karting crash at the weekend has been remembered as an energetic and lively boy who had "joy in his eye", by those close to him.

Rowan Willis, 9, died when his go-kart hit soft sand and rolled on Ninety Mile Beach at Ahipara on Saturday.

Speed was believed to have been a factor in the crash, police said.

William McKegg, who coached Rowan at Remuera's College Rifles Rugby Club for four years, said his death had "knocked the whole bloody community".


"He was a great kid...there was a joy in his eye," he said.

"Rugby wasn't his number one thing, but he would turn up with one boot on if he could to participate. He was one of those kids."

Rowan was a "fantastic kid" who had "such a spirit about him".

"And he had some tiger in there as well," Mr McKegg said.

The club had rallied since the news of Rowan's death and their flag would be lowered to half-mast, he said.

"Some of the kids have taken it pretty hard."

Some of the players would be attending Rowan's funeral wearing their rugby uniforms, he said.

Rowan was also a cub at the St Chad's Scout Group in Meadowbank, and leaders in the group said he would be greatly missed.


St Chads group leader Caroline Perry said the whole group had been shocked and saddened by news of his death.

"Rowan and his family have been involved in scouts for a number of years and he will be greatly missed as an enthusiastic and energetic member of the Cub section and wider Scout group."

Cub leader Mark Chittenden said Rowan was a "lively and engaged Cub, always involved himself with the activities on and off the Cub programme".

Another Cub leader Scot Graham said Rowan would be sadly missed.

"He was a highly engaged Cub full of energy and always smiling no matter what activity we were doing."

Cub leader Russell Swain said: "Any Bear Grylls activity involving mud, water and 100 per cent effort - Rowan was right in there."

Scouts New Zealand National Development manager Mark Long said they would be sending a condolence card to Rowan's family.

"And we will be offering support and counselling by any way and means to the group, their family and friends."

In a funeral notice in the New Zealand Herald, Rowan was described by his family as a "very special son of Kay and Richard, brother of Lloyd and Giles, much loved grandson, nephew, cousin and friend".

A service will be held for him at St Chads Church in Meadowbank on Friday.