A Rotorua man who taught at two schools in the city has died suddenly after a virus caused liver failure.
Steve Smith lived in Ngongotahā for almost 40 years. He moved to Rotorua aged 7 with his family and only moved away three years ago to teach English in Abu Dhabi.
His sister, Nicola Smith, told the Rotorua Daily Post growing up in Ngongotahā was the "perfect childhood".
"It was very outdoorsy. We always played bullrush across the road; we rode our bikes, we had a dinghy.
"Waiteti Bridge was a big part of his life ... He was always down at the bridge swimming and fishing and I'd get sent to go bring him home for dinner."
Nicola said he was definitely a big brother.
"Because mum and dad were not together; he self-appointed himself the man of the house. He was a protective big brother."
Steve's heart was in Ngongotahā. He spent time teaching at Ngongotaha Primary and then as a mathematics teacher at Western Heights High School.
Nicola doesn't remember quite how long he was at Western Heights High School but it "felt like a long time".
"He was a good teacher, he loved teaching, but his greatest joy was his kids. He was a great dad.
"He absolutely adored them. They were his greatest achievement in life."
He moved to the United Arab Emirates to teach English after his three children left home, but he kept his house in Rotorua.
He met his Irish partner, Elaine, while overseas,
They were in Ireland for Christmas when Steve contracted a virus which resulted in liver failure. He died on Monday afternoon New Zealand time.
"He arrived there [Dublin] and wasn't feeling great," Nicola said.
"He had a liver transplant and survived a couple of days. He was definitely fighting.
"The virus gave him acute liver failure. He was messaging us as a family keeping us up to date and the next thing he was no longer messaging. It was heartbreaking."
Steve was also a "rugby man", Nicola said.
"Charles Sturt, who was big in the Ngongotahā scene, used to pick him and my brother up and take them to training."
Steve gave back to the Ngongotaha Rugby Club as a coach and president.
Even when living overseas he showed a keen interest in the club.
"He was always messaging the club to see how are the boys going."
Sturt had known Steve since he was about 11.
Steve's mother and sister worked for the Sturts at Ngongotaha Four Square, Sturt's wife taught Steve's daughter trumpet, Sturt coached Steve at rugby and Steve taught Sturt's children throughout their primary and high school years.
"He was highly respected," Sturt said. "I coached him in the under-21 and he was my captain. He was a loose forward then went on to be a tight five.
"He was highly regarded by his players."
Sturt said, as a rugby player, Steve was "uncompromising and tough, but he had brains as well".
"He was a dream to coach."
Sturt said his children loved Steve as a teacher.
"He was very attentive in getting kids to want to learn and improve," he said.
"Also, when we were on the Ngongotaha Primary School board together, we raised thousands through fundraisers.
"He was a genuine community man who would do anything for anybody. If something had to be done, he'd be there."
Sturt said Steve would want to be brought back to be buried in New Zealand.
"I'm very sad. It's very, very sad someone that age, with family, living overseas working to better themselves and this has happened."
Steve leaves behind his two sisters, Janet and Nicola, two brothers, Paul and Daniel, and three children, Ana, Cullen and Wade. His parents, Judy and John, live in Rotorua.
A Givealittle page has already been set up to bring his body back to Ngongotaha.
More than $11,500 had been donated so far.
Western Heights High School has also posted a tribute to Steve on its Facebook page.
"It is with immense sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Steve Smith in Dublin, Ireland yesterday," the post said.
"Steve was many things to many people - teacher, coach, mentor, colleague, and friend - and we will miss him dearly. We send our love and support to his whānau, and especially the children he was so proud of, Wade, Ana and Cullen."