Police are investigating the death of a soldier off the Coromandel Peninsula on Friday.
Sergeant Wayne Taylor was killed in a maritime counter-terrorism exercise near Channel Island.
The father of four served in East Timor and Afghanistan and joined the Infantry Regiment in 1993.
Investigations are being carried out on behalf of the coroner.
The father of four is being remembered as an outstanding soldier, leader, father, family man, friend and top bloke.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell called it a tragedy not only for the soldier's family, but "for every member of the Defence Force".
"No words can adequately describe this sudden and tragic loss. Your family member was a man who commanded high respect amongst his fellow soldiers and embodied the Army's core values of courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity."
The soldier's family are being supported by members of the New Zealand Special Operations Force and the New Zealand Army, the NZDF said in a statement.