The man whose life mission was to built a replica of a stuning 4500-year-old lyre has died.

Katikati man John Knotts, 75, died on Monday afternoon after battling incurable heart disease.

Mr Knotts first began the process of creating the lyre when he was just 18-years-old and it soon became a labour of love for the student of ancient Mesopotamian cultures.

One of his dying wishes was to have the lyre played live to an audicence, which finally came to fruition with a multi-media concert in Baycourt on April 2.

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Incubator manager and artist Simone Anderson said Mr Knotts created a legacy that would live on in his honour.

''It's really exciting because he had been really working hard to get it to festivals and he was able to hear that it was, that it's going in that direction,'' Ms Anderson said.

Mr Knotts leave behind his wife Jackie, a strong supporter for her husband's project.

In a previous article Mr Knotts said he decided that the lyre should have a distinctly New Zealand flavour and has used New Zealand redwood for the frame and paua, pounamu (green stone) and oyster shell for the decoration.

Mr Knotts made no attempt to hide the fact that he is "virtually terminal but still managing". His failing health meant it was even a strain to string the lyre after a harpist advised him to make a new bridge to improve its sound.

He has donated the $35,000 lyre to the Incubator at the Historic Village. "Without their support, it would never have got to this stage,'' Mr Knotts said.

We are sad to let you all know that John Knotts passed away yesterday evening . A brave and clever man at rest now and...

Posted by The incubator on Monday, 2 May 2016