On New Year's Eve a Napier man celebrated the countdown with his hands on his partner's stomach, trying to feel his unborn daughter kick.

The following evening Bradley Cardno, 31, had passed away, leaving behind his grieving partner, young children, extended family and friends, who in the light of his sudden death are urging people to pull their loved ones closer.

Cardno, from Napier, had posted to Facebook at 12.09am on the first day of this year.

"As the clock strikes 12 and the fireworks go off with people celebrating the new year I lay there listening to it all with my hand on my partners stomach, trying to feel my daughter kick, thinking this is the deal right here! Happy new years everyone."

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But Cardno would never meet his daughter. He died on the evening of January 1.

Brad Cardno with his eldest daughter Rochelle Hribar-Cardno. Photo / Supplied
Brad Cardno with his eldest daughter Rochelle Hribar-Cardno. Photo / Supplied

Cardno has left behind his long-term partner Abigail Sims, his two children and three stepchildren all aged between 9 and 14.

Sims told the Herald the post was his way of sharing his excitement about their child with the world. She had told him she was pregnant on his birthday in September.

"He actually burst into tears. Happy tears. He was totally blown away.

"He said it was the best birthday present he could ever get."

Sims had no idea Cardno was struggling. She said he had struggled with depression when they first got together eight years ago but had seemed stable and happy recently.

Bradley Cardno and Abigail Sims, who lived near Napier, were together for eight years. Photo / Supplied
Bradley Cardno and Abigail Sims, who lived near Napier, were together for eight years. Photo / Supplied

Now, almost five months pregnant, Sims wanted to remind people not to bottle up their problems.

"He was a fiercely proud man and didn't want people to see he was struggling or had any weakness. He wanted people to see him as a strong man and father.

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"It's an old fashioned thing not to talk about your problems, you don't cry. But it's something you need to do. If you don't talk, people don't know you need help."

Long-time friend Jean-Pierre Bouchet agreed. He was one of Cardno's closest friends and had no idea his buddy was struggling. He's set up a fundraising page to help Cardno's family.

He said his friend had experienced depression in the past but had seemed happy in recent times and had turned his life around in the past few years.

Cardno got out of prison in 2008 for robbing a dairy and he was now working in forestry.

"Most recently everything seemed so fine. And that's why we're all so surprised. It's something we're finding very hard to understand."

From left, Isabella Poutawa, Bradley Cardno, Rochelle Hribar-Cardno with (sitting) Luciana Poutawa and Xzavia Hribar-Cardno. Photo / Supplied
From left, Isabella Poutawa, Bradley Cardno, Rochelle Hribar-Cardno with (sitting) Luciana Poutawa and Xzavia Hribar-Cardno. Photo / Supplied

Bouchet said Cardno was fiercely loyal and once you were part of his inner circle he'd do anything for you.

"Once you were inside his loop, he was a lifetime quality friend. His loyalty was above all else."

He said some people were intimidated by his tattoos and piercing blue-eyed gaze, but once he let his guard down he was incredibly caring.

It was Cardno's ability to talk for hours and share his opinions that Bouchet found admirable.

He said Cardno described Sims as his one.

"She's always been his one. She was always the one that understood him. He was always thinking of her.

To donate to the family visit here.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.