Late last year Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated's deputy chairman and Wairoa Maori leader Rill (Riwai) Meihana passed away suddenly in his home at Nuhaka in Northern Hawke's Bay.

A three-times election challenger to the chairmanship of long-term iwi leader Ngahiwi Tomoana, he was into his eighth year on the iwi board and was chairman of the board of Wairoa Taiwhenua.

Under Rill's leadership, the Wairoa Taiwhenua Board supported whanau, marae, local events, rangatahi initiatives and their environmental work in the Wairoa community.

He was passionate about his community and represented whanau, hapu and iwi on a number of local and regional committees.

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"Rill was a staunch advocate for Kahungunu and 'an abrupt to the point leader' who maintained the mana of Kahungunu 24/7," said Mr Tomoana.

"He was my deputy chairman for the past eight years"

Rill would often drive to Hastings with kaumatua Bill Blake, and the two would visit the iwi's head office to "check up on the staff".

He had a witty personality and he grew a great relationship with the staff at Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated. Often he would joke with the staff and the office would roar with laughter.

Last Thursday the Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Board held its first meeting for the year at Kahungunu Marae in Nuhaka.

The board and staff members met with Rill's whanau to remember and reshare and celebrate in some good memories.

Rill is survived by his beautiful wife Larraine and he was the proud father of Dr Suzanne Pitama and Denal Meihana. Rill and Larraine have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.