A friend of a 19-year-old who lay dead in his hostel for up to eight weeks says he offered him a "strong hand" to help him settle in a new country.

The friend made a heartfelt post on Facebook after news of the death of Mason Pendrous, who was found dead by a staff member at the University of Canterbury's Sonoda Campus in Christchurch on Monday evening.

Pendrous' death has sparked multiple investigations, including from police and the university, but has also ignited wild debate about how he was left unchecked for so long.

Staff were only urged to check on him after an odour began emanating from his room, which was in accommodation he shared with four others.

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About two thirds of the university's on-site students live in accommodation managed by Campus Living Villages. The multinational company has more than 45,000 students in its care internationally including at Massey and Victoria universities.

Meanwhile, Pendrous' friend posted how he was struggling to come to terms with his mate's death.

"Still can't believe it, a great man, an awesome friend, a dear brother left us. I am broken, stayed up all night, kept flashing back these four years' memories.

"This gentleman gave me such a strong hand to help me to settle down in NZ, at Scots [College, Wellington].

"A hopeless boy was given a light of sunshine in the darkest phase of his life. Now the light is gone but the light will be remembered. The world will remember you and we will miss you brother. Rest In Peace."

Pendrous' stepfather also commented on the post, replying Thanks ... was such a good soul and a good man .. I will be forever in his shadow x."

The friend replied that his death was a "heartbreak" and urged him to stay strong.

Another former roommate also wrote how sad he was at the news.

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"This is so sad to hear, was a good roommate and friend. Rest easy brother x"

Meanwhile, CLV's group managing director John Schroder wasn't commenting any further today.

Yesterday he said they owed it to not only Pendrous but also his family "to make sure we find out exactly what happened".

"If something needs to change in the way we operate our services – my assurance is we will do it. We can never eliminate all risk, but we can, and we must do all we can to minimise it."

The New Zealand Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA) acting president Caitlin Barlow-Groome said she'd never heard of anything happening like it before and said changes need to be made.

However, she was critical of Sonoda's apparent lack of residential assistants [RA], with just two on board to cater for the 108 students.

"[At Otago] there was one RA for about 17 people, rather than one RA for about 54 people at that [Sonoda] hall.

"If you're already looking to restructure people out ... how much responsibility can you put on one student? An RA is there for that peer-to-peer support around what it's like to be a student, where to go, how to find your way around, not there for the frontline support service."

The university's vice-chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, promised the university would abide by the recommendations of the investigation, and do everything in its power to make sure such an incident never happened again.

De la Rey did not rule out ending the university's contract with Campus Living when asked by media.

"I anticipate that the investigations, both by the police and the independent investigators, will provide recommendations. As I've indicated we will take those recommendations extremely seriously."

Pendrous was a former Scots College student from Wellington.

The school's headmaster, Graeme Yule, said the college was saddened to receive the news and the incident was tragic is so many ways.