A Whangarei man killed during a freak storm in Auckland was a talented sportsman who, friends said, was "taken too young".
Former New Zealand sporting representative Brendon Johnson, 22, died on Thursday after a tornado swept through a Hobsonville High School construction site where two other men were also killed by falling concrete slabs.
Mr Johnson was a champion badminton player and attended Whangarei Boys' High School from 2003 to 2006.
His mother, Sheryl, from Hikurangi, said it was hard to comprehend what had happened to her fitness-loving son who had also enjoyed music and playing the guitar.
Mr Johnson had represented New Zealand at an Australasian championship in badminton in 2004.
Whangarei Boys' High School headmaster Al Kirk described Mr Johnson as a fine young man.
"He was a quiet guy, a typical teenager. I have talked to some of his old teachers and they all told me how he was always polite," he said.
Friends took to Facebook to express their shock and grief at the news of his passing.
"You'll be forever in my heart and you will be missed more than you could know," said one friend.
"Will miss you so much my bro. I will keep you alive in my memories forever," said another.
"Taken far too young," many said.
It is understood that Mr Johnson was working as a subcontractor for Hawkins Construction and living in Massey.
A service for Mr Johnson will be held in Hikurangi next week and his family are requesting donations to Starship Children's Hospital in lieu of flowers and gifts.
More than 200 men had been working on the site on Thursday when the tornado tore through West Auckland, leaving homes flattened and streets looking like war zones.
About 250 people are thought to be homeless after the event, with many having to take shelter in the Massey Leisure Centre.
Prime Minister John Key said it was fortunate more people were not killed and injured, considering how many were in the area and exposed to the storm's fury.