Joseph Pohio, 40, was killed as he went to the aid of an injured woman in the February earthquake.
He was in the Link Centre in central Christchurch and tried to help a woman as she fell but was killed when debris fell on him.
Parents Arnold and Joy Pohio said Joseph, who was known as Joe, was a popular man, who ‘‘never lost a friend, only gathered more’’.
‘‘You never ever, ever, ever think you’re going to have to identify your own son. You don’t expect to bury them,’’ his mother said.
He had a ‘‘special bond’’ with his parents and rang them every day, no matter how late.
Joe, a computer aided draughtsman with the Christchurch City Council, had been a member of Civil Defence for more than 20 years and helping people was second nature to him.
Joe was lucky to reach the age of 40, his mother said. ‘‘We nearly lost him four times’’ during his youth.
He was born with a hole in his heart and had gone through several surgeries as a child. Two months out from his 21st birthday he broke his neck when he was hit by a car in Wellington on his way to an AC/DC concert.
‘‘Joe loved life but most of all he loved the people in it,’’ his family and friends said.
Arnold, summed up the couple’s grief in one short line: ‘‘If I could swap places with him, I would.’’
Several hundred people went to his funeral at his parents’ home in Kaiapoi. His coffin was painted with a seascape to capture the scene he loved the most.
Joe, who went to St Bede’s College, had a passion for old cars, was a keen musician and loved blues, reggae and rock music.