Del Porter was the kind of school teacher every child wanted to have.
He was a big man with a big heart who had a gentle soul that touched the lives of every pupil he taught.
Now those who loved him are paying their respects to the 49-year-old former Mokoia Intermediate teacher after he lost his four-year battle with cancer on Sunday.
His wife of 10 years, Sharon, told the Rotorua Daily Post the couple had been together for nearly twice as many years.
Together they had three children - Nevaeh, 8, Delayne, 6, and Ricco, 5.
"He had such a big heart. I know he loved me and the kids and he loved his students like his own too."
Tributes are being posted online from former pupils including some who described Porter as the best teacher they had ever had and others who said he had turned their lives around.
Porter was born and raised in Rotorua, attending Malfroy, Rotorua Primary and Rotorua Boys' High schools - where he was a member of the first XV.
He spent 20 years in the navy before travelling overseas, including spending time working in security in Canada.
When he returned to he went to teachers' college to further his love of passing on his knowledge to children.
He taught at Mokoia Intermediate for 11 years, and one of his passions was school rugby. During his time he developed a school exchange with a New Plymouth side.
Mokoia Intermediate principal Rawiri Wihapi described Porter as a leader in his own right who had a "huge personality" and left a lasting impression with many students he taught.
"He cared genuinely, was a gentle man and was very knowledgeable about the world and history due to his navy experience."
Wihapi said Porter spoke many languages, had a quick wit and a lovely character.
"May your pillow be soft as you, now rest in the hands of our heavenly father. Your many tributes to living will be a memory for all of us."
Wihapi thanked Porter for being his friend and said he would be missed.
"Love to you, Sharon and your beautiful children. Another totara has fallen."
After his cancer diagnosis in 2016, Porter left his teaching job to focus on his health and treatments. With his wife, they ran Mawhero Souvenirs in Whakarewarewa Village.
His whānau and friends who gathered at his tangi at Hurunga Te Rangi Marae remembered a man who touched the lives of the tourists who would flock into the store.
They told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday
that whenever tourists came into the shop, they would find themselves having long conversations with Porter and would leave as friends.
Many saw he was an avid collector of world flags and numbers plates and within weeks of meeting him, he would find they had posted number plates and flags from their home countries to add to his collections.
Given his love of Canada, he made a particular connection with a tourist from there and they remained in contact ever since - with Porter even continuing to teach her Māori online.
"That was the sort of person he was," said sister-in-law Linda Porter.
"He was just that kind of person you wanted to be around a little bit longer."
Porter's rā nehu (funeral service) will be held today
at 11am at the marae followed by his burial at Peka Urupa.