Zachary Yarwood's life was extraordinary from the word go.

The 23-year-old Navy diver from Napier was tragically taken from family and friends in an incident during a dive training exercise on Monday night at the Devonport Naval Base.

Both his brothers Max and Tom Yarwood along with closest friend Ben Harding told Hawke's Bay Today Yarwood was truly passionate about serving his country and protecting New Zealand freedom.

A driven young man, he had already gained a collection of medals including the NZSOM, NZGSM and NZDSM.


"He was fiercely protective of his parents, brothers and fiancee Emily Parr," his mother Liz Yarwood said.

"He was extraordinary from the word go, as a baby, toddler, teenager and an even more extraordinary young man."

The three amigos L-R Max Yarwood, Zach Yarwood and Tom Yarwood. Photo / Supplied.
The three amigos L-R Max Yarwood, Zach Yarwood and Tom Yarwood. Photo / Supplied.

Yarwood spoke of how her son was driven, passionate, loving and mischievous.

"He let nothing get in his way, once he had his mind set on something he went ahead and did it - he was just so successful in anything he did and it stood out so much to others.

"When I got pregnant with Zachary, he was adventurous from day one. I was craving hot chocolate fudge cake - which was his favourite - he didn't give me any rest throughout my pregnancy," she smiled.

"He was just the most loving child, always writing me notes like 'I love you mum and dad' and would post them under the door. He loved his two brothers, we called them the 'three amigos' and they're all just broken by what's happened. We all are."

Devoted couple Emily Parr with Zach Yarwood. Photo / Supplied.
Devoted couple Emily Parr with Zach Yarwood. Photo / Supplied.

She said Zachary was a curious child who was always trying to do more.

"When he was 3 years old we used to take him to an indoor playground - the tumble jungle - he didn't want to do the normal thing and play inside the cage, he climbed up the outside of it and on to the roof - we ended up getting banned."


Yarwood joined the Royal New Zealand Navy at just 17, taking his oath with sincerity, pride and a fierce tenacity.

His friend Harding said: "He was like a magnet to people, he had an infectious humour and set himself very high standards and had great pride in his uniform."

The family said they have been completely overwhelmed with the support and loving messages they've received since Zachary's death.

A memorial service was held at the Devonport naval base on Thursday afternoon with more than 300 naval officers performing a haka in Yarwood's honour.

Liz Yarwood has been viewing a Facebook post by the NZ Navy, every hour, every day since his death.

"More than 3000 people have reacted to it and more than 400 people have posted comments.

"I've been receiving hundreds of text messages and requests from people - it gives me some comfort as he was just so loved by his navy family."

She gently holds a perfectly folded red T-shirt that her passionate son would have worn to the gym this week - another one of his many loves, that and the Bolton Wanderers football team.

He may be gone, but his memory, inspiration, humour and drive clearly continues to live on through others today, and in the years to come.