A much-loved toddler who drowned on Sunday had "precious, beautiful, big eyes and golden complexion", according to a family friend.

Emergency services were called to the residential address on Tavistock Rd, Waipukurau, at 3pm where it is reported the toddler drowned in a swimming pool.

A Givealittle page has been set up for the family of the toddler named as Costyn Tawa Hema.

Yesterday friends and loved ones were rallying around the family and in a matter of hours more than $1000 had been raised.

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A family friend said on the fundraising site the toddler was "loved and cherished by all".

"He was shy, but sure was a character. He loved going for rides with his dad in his truck," she said.

"Costyn Tawa Hema was tragically taken ... and at this hard time friends and family are trying to pull together to help support family."

She said the page had been created to help "relieve as much stress as possible ... food, help get family closer, anything to help towards making this as easy as possible".

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker said it "must be an incredibly difficult time for the family".

"It's an incredible tragedy and the whole community is thinking about the family at this time."

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said they didn't know the whanau but they were "always friendly and the kids are always so happy and polite".

"They always wave or say hi when we walk past."

WaterSafe NZ chief executive Jonty Mills also offered his condolences to the family.

"First and foremost this is a tragic situation for the family and the community. Every preventable drowning is one too many and sadly we are losing far too many under fives in fatal drownings."

Without knowing the specific circumstances of the situation, he said the only "foolproof solution is constant adult supervision at all times".

"We all know how easily a toddler can disappear once they're mobile and how easily we can all be distracted, even for an instant. It takes less than a minute for a child to drown.

"Any amount of water presents a hazard and we all need to be extra vigilant around toddlers."