Kafoa Hala Latu, was laid to rest after his body was recovered from the water off Waikowhai Beach on Auckland’s Manukau Harbour on Sunday 10.
Known as a successful paddler, a soccer and tennis player and was also a Surf Life Saver, he had been a coach for the club since 2014.
Kaniva News reports Latu also co-founded the Tu’i Tonga Canoe Club in Hawaii before moving to New Zealand more than a decade ago.
He was a huge supporter of the Tu’i Tonga Mafua team in Tonga, investing both his time and money in the team.
In a bereavement note by the club it said: “It is with immense sadness that Portage Crossing Canoe Club announces the passing of our beloved gentle giant, our huge-hearted man mountain, our larger-than-life-itself guy with the loudest laugh, Kafoa Hala Latu – aka Coach!
“We will miss you heaps, Coach. Toka aa ihe nonga moe fiemalie”.
Another tribute said:
“Friends, Family and loved ones are extremely sad and currently grieving as the news of Kafoa Hala Latu death was made known to the public.
“We hope this living tribute will bring comfort to you and your family.”