Tieszen, 68, and his brother-in-law Brent Moline, 61, drowned after they were dragged into the reef off Muri lagoon last month.
Family and community members gathered in Rapid City, South Dakota on Monday to honour Tieszen, who was also the former city chief of police.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard spoke highly of Tieszen, saying his untimely death was a shock to the state and to his fellow lawmakers.
“Craig looked for the best in people, even when he was seeing them at their worst,” said Governor Daugaard.
“Most of us heard about Craig’s loss on Thanksgiving,” said Daugaard. “For me, it was a reminder to be thankful for our loved ones and for the time we’re given on this earth.
“Craig Tieszen made the most of his time, and we can all learn from his example. Our state is a better place today because of Craig Tieszen.”
At the time of his death, Tieszen was serving his first term in the State House of Representatives.
He had previously served in the State Senate from 2009 to 2016.
Tieszen served as Senate Majority Whip and as the chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee, and most recently served as the chairman of the House Retirement Laws Committee.
Tieszen and Moline were visiting Rarotonga to attend a family wedding.