Barney Akurangi spent every summer weekend at Pourere Beach gathering kaimoana for his whanau.
But he never got to share his latest catch with his wife and four children.
The 34-year-old Hastings man drowned while diving at the central Hawke's Bay beach about 5pm on Sunday.
Sergeant Ross Gilbert, of Waipukurau, said Mr Akurangi and a friend were diving in shallow water when the friend noticed him floating on the water.
He and other people tried to revive Mr Akurangi by performing CPR but were unsuccessful.
Police inquiries into the causes and the circumstances of the death were continuing. The sea conditions were moderate, Mr Gilbert said.
His mother Beverly Akurangi said her eldest son spent every summer weekend at the beach.
"That beach he went to, he'd been there all his life. He loved the water and he was a good strong swimmer."
Mrs Akurangi said he was always gathering kaimoana. He had been diving for kina on Sunday.
"Whatever he got he would come and share with us."
- The Dominion Post