A burning candle flickered throughout the memorial for Topec instructor Bryce Jourdain on Saturday.
The family candle of hope was lit on August 8 - the day Mr Jourdain was swept to sea trying to save two students.
The bodies of Mr Jourdain, 42, and Spotswood College student Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye, 17, have not been found since a rock climbing accident last month.
Brazilian student Felipe Melo, 17, also drowned and his body washed up near Paritutu rock 12 days later.
His funeral was held at Spotswood College last month.
Close to 400 people filled Ryder Hall at New Plymouth Boys' High School on Saturday to remember a man his family and friends described as "phenomenal" and "full of life".
Robyn Jourdain recalled her first date almost 19 years ago and the instructions Mr Jourdain gave her.
"I'll pick you up at 8am, we'll be gone all day, wear something active.
"That day I learnt to drive a motor scooter on Waiheke Island and Bryce learnt that horses and I don't easily mix," she said.
Christmas Day is also Mr Jourdain's birthday and since moving to Taranaki 20 months ago, the family had planned to celebrate it with a sunrise on Mt Taranaki.
"Our next mountain one birthday morning was to be Mt Taranaki. We will do that for you one year, my darling."
Nine-year-old Grace Jourdain, supported by her 11-year-old brother, Isaac, read a poem about how daring and delightful their Dad was.
"Anyone can be a father, it takes someone special to be a Daddy," she said.
The older sister of Mr Jourdain, Jo Judd, listed the many family functions that her brother was constantly late to, particularly family photos.
"I'm sure he's laughing today about being late to his own funeral.
"Oh wait, he hasn't even turned up, the cheeky monkey," she said.
In lieu of a coffin or urn at the memorial, a kayak and paddle took centre stage along with family treasures.
His harness, photos, flowers, a teddy bear, water gun and his favourite "No Fear" T-shirt were reminders of the fun-loving adventure man.
Topec director Steve Ralph and colleagues Mark Dickie and Pip Taylor spoke of their friend with the highest of praise.
"The Jourdains embraced Taranaki as Taranaki has embraced them," Mr Ralph said.
"Bryce always said to me that coming to Topec was meant to be, Taranaki was the place that felt like home for him. It felt right.
"He was selfless and always put the needs of others before his own."
Ms Taylor spoke of a light and a warmth missing from Topec since August 8.
"If I was to think of a word to sum up my experiences with Bryce, it would be phenomenal."
Representatives from Taranaki schools attended the memorial along with New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven and MP Jonathan Young.
Several members of the New Plymouth police and search and rescue were also there.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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