Daniel Taylor was in his sixth year as a volunteer firefighter and was due to receive his five-year service medal.
Instead, on Saturday afternoon members of his brigade stayed by his side after he was killed in a trail-riding accident.
Daniel, 30, was driving a side-by-side farm vehicle in the Porangahau Country Club Coastal Trail Ride.
It was his day off and he went along to enjoy the event with his mates, and spent the morning assisting those in need.
"He finished work early on Friday, cooked a meal for a friend and called in to see us on his way home," said his mum, Mary Taylor.
"He told me he was going on the trail ride in the morning and I asked him to be careful.
He cheekily patted me on the head, as he always did, and said, 'It's all good Mummy'."
Daniel's parents were notified of the accident by John Galbraith, a family friend and ex- Porangahau Chief Fire Officer.
"He looked sad and said this was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do, then he told us," said Mary.
The Porangahau Volunteer Fire Brigade was Daniel's 'thing' his parents said.
"He adopted them as family. He was like that, he adopted people. He had a lot of very good mates, who were good to him and he was good to them."
Mary said the community support since the tragedy had been huge.
"This is absolutely horrible, devastating, but we are receiving amazing support from the community and the fire brigade."
Daniel grew up farming, helping on his parents' Glenbrae Stud, taking pride in the polled Hereford bulls and Wiltshire sheep they breed.
He had completed a four year building apprenticeship, worked on a dairy farm for two years and returned home in 2012. Daniel recently became a partner with his parents in Glenbrae Stud, as well as buying his own farm, which they ran as one business.
"He was really getting into the farming he'd 'found himself' and was happy with his life.
He was in his element with livestock, machinery and bikes, fishing and shooting and the fire brigade. And most of all his mates.
"I'm going to miss my farming mate, my fishing mate, my hunting mate."