Residents in the small town of Waitarere Beach say the community has been left tainted by the death of Alex Fisher.
A vigil was held last night at the Waitarere Beach Domain to mourn the death of the 10-year-old, whose body was found on Thursday.
The community of about 500 residents is still coming to terms with his death, and the homicide investigation that has followed.
Horowhenua district mayor Brendan Duffy said the events had taken their toll on those with ties to the area.
"This time last week we were innocent Waitarere, now we are holding hands in support of a family and a community who have suffered an enormous tragedy," he said.
"This is an occasion where we stand strong and united with a collective will to remind us as a community of just how powerful we can be when we're prepared to stand together in support of others and their tragedy, and I thank you for your support."
At the vigil Brenda Lineham read a statement on behalf of Alex Fisher's family.
"Alex was such a loveable young man with a heart of gold. He had a cheeky grin and he loved nothing more than hanging with his family and friends," she said.
"A limb has fallen from the family tree."
She asked the community to help the family honour and remember Alex in the way he deserved.
One woman, who owns a holiday home at the beach, said the community was mourning together.
"It's just too close to home for us, [it's] a place where we come as a family, a place we love to come in the holidays so it's really hard. It's almost surreal really to think that Waitarere has got this sadness over it; this grief that we've got to work through," she said.
Other residents said they believed the tragedy would stain the town's reputation.
"I think most people have just been in shock and been really sad, like it's tainted the area. It's always been a safe sort of place," one woman said.
"It's really affected everybody. Personally I've just been affected by it from kids that come into work, and they're still trying to deal with it and you just see the sadness and grief that it's caused in the town," said another.
One man said: "It's a massive shock for the community, and a massive shock for me. Hopefully nothing else like this happens again because it's such a lovely place out here, and I don't want [it getting] a bad rep. I don't want my hometown shoved in the dirt.
"We were innocent, you know? And now we're slightly tainted. And I really hope that, I don't know how you can get over this, I don't know how; it just takes time. I think time's the only healer,"
Local MP, Nathan Guy, said everyone needed to pull together.
"Feeling pain and sorrow is about being human, coming together as a community makes us even stronger, more resilient to cope with adversity," he said.
"The sun will rise again over Waitarere Beach."