Friends, family and former students are grieving for the loss of the "funniest and best" teacher, who was killed in a Rotorua car crash on Monday.
Hori Kaiwai, 67, taught technology and Māori at Rotorua Boys' High School from 1996-2014. He also helped coach Waka Ama.
He died after a collision between a car and a campervan.
The school posted the news to Facebook on Tuesday.
"Kaumatua, teacher, colleague, mentor and friend to many staff and hundreds of young men of Raukura," it read.
The post has been met with dozens of comments remembering Mr Kaiwai's 19 years at the school.
"One of the best teachers I've had," one student commented.
"Legendary teacher alright," another said.
Principal Chris Grinter told Newshub in a statement it was "perhaps [Mr Kaiwai's] understanding of Te Ao Māori and his willingness to be our Kaumatua that really marked his huge contribution".
"As a grandson of Sir Apirana Ngata he brought a rich wealth Te Ao Māori knowledge to our school.
"Our boys loved him for his humour, his dignity and his positive approach to all things.
"Hori often managed Kapa Haka, Waka Ama, Hoe Waka, Touch and Rugby teams. He loved supporting the boys and school in any way he could."
One ex-student said he was "so terribly sad" to wake up and hear the news.
"Mr Kaiwai, even years after we left school you took the time if we saw each other either on the streets or on sports grounds to catch up and genuinely chat about how we were doing."
Another said he is "shattered"
"Thankyou... For making those schooling years that little bit more manageable. A true lighthouse for so so many youth. Still in disbelief."
Emergency services were called to the scene of the crash just before 9:30am on Monday, which involved a car and a campervan.
The serious crash unit is investigating.
It is believed Mr Kaiwai was returning home after a conference in Adelaide when he was killed.
"I remember the last words you said to me too before the accident," Mr Kaiwai's son said in a post on Facebook.
"'Love you boboi, I'll see you when I get back home.'
"You were so close to getting back home dad, so close."
"We are all devastated," one of Mr Kaiwai's nephews added.
Mr Kaiwai is being taken to Mataatua Marae on Wednesday, where he will stay overnight.
His body will then travel to Palmerston North for a funeral service at St Michael's Church.