A contingent of Northlanders have travelled to Auckland to farewell Dr Ranginui Walker, a man of mana who played an instrumental role in the Ngapuhi Tribunal hearings.
Dr Walker, a Maori academic and writer, passed away at his Auckland home on Monday, aged 83. Te Kotahitanga co-chairman, Rudy Taylor is one of about 30 Northlanders who headed to Orakei Marae yesterday.
"Ranginui's knowledge and questioning of what he called our one-sided history was instrumental in the Waitangi Tribunal's finding that Ngapuhi did not cede sovereignty," he said.
Pita Tipene, who heads Te Kotahitanga with Mr Taylor, paid tribute to Dr Walker's pivotal role on the Waitangi Tribunal in the Tribunal's Northland Inquiry, Te Paparahi o Te Raki. Mr Tipene said his presence and thirst for understanding Ngapuhi history and past grievances would be sorely missed.
"We are saddened by the loss of this esteemed academic, an inspirational leader who the people of Ngapuhi loved and respected. A giant totara has fallen in the forest and the reverberations will be felt by all."
Dr Walker is lying in state at Orakei Marae, his funeral is expected to take place tomorrow. More Northlanders are expected to head to Auckland today.