More than 2000 people have paid their respects to Te Awanuiarangi Black today as he lies in state at Te Whetu o te Rangi Marae, and a huge turnout is expected for the funeral on Sunday.

Mr Black, 48, died in Tauranga Hospital on Wednesday afternoon after a short illness. He was a highly respected iwi leader and served on the Maori Language Commission.

Close friend Tommy Wilson said there had been an "overwhelming" stream of well-wishers from all over New Zealand with more than 2000 people visiting yesterday alone.

"That's a measure of the man's mana. They say a man is measured by how many people turn up at the tangi."

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Mr Black is lying in state at Te Whetu o te Rangi Marae in Welcome Bay. The farewell nehu will be at 11am on Sunday.