A 15-year-old Nelson College boarder from Greymouth who died in hospital on Monday was a "little battler" who worked hard to overcome learning difficulties, his headmaster says.
The boy, Matthew Gunter, had stopped breathing after a surgical operation in Greymouth Hospital, and was then airlifted to Christchurch Hospital.
Once there, his parents made the decision to take him off life-support, and he died around lunchtime on Monday.
Headmaster Gary O'Shea said the boy had been a "little battler" who had worked hard in the school's learning support service to overcome learning needs.
He would have left this year with NCEA level 1 after initially coming in at the bottom of his year level, Mr O'Shea said.
"You always have affection for the battler, the one who has disadvantages and battles through."
Matthew had also played rugby and was a coxswain at the Nelson Rowing Club last season.
He enjoyed food technology and hospitality, and was part of the team that catered for the school's recent graduation dinner, and also enjoyed a range of other activities, Mr O'Shea said.
Students at the school were grieving, and counsellors would be available for those who needed them.
"I think at that age they feel that people their age don't die and if they do, it's in a car crash. They are not supposed to die in an operation, or post-operation.
"Certainly for me I remember every boy who has passed away."
Boarders were almost like a family, so his friends in Barnicoat House would be upset, he said.
There will be a funeral on Saturday, and Mr O'Shea said he would attend with a busload of fellow students.
"We will give him a good send-off."