1000 gather at Orakei Marae for 3-day tangi.

More than 1000 people gathered on the first day of a three-day tangi for leading Maori figure Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker.

Family members, friends and iwi leaders joined university scholars, students and politicians at Orakei Marae in Auckland yesterday.

Dr Walker died on Monday. He was 83.

Members of his iwi, Te Whakatohea, family members and staff from the University of Auckland stepped up as pallbearers.

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On the marae, he was remembered as a standard-bearer for Maori rights, language and customs - and as never being one to back down or keep quiet about sharing his opinions.

Former Maori Party leader Dr Pita Sharples said he first met Dr Walker as a young student. "I think his greatest gift was being able to explain what it was like to be colonised and the actual things that colonised us - the events, the laws, the practices and culture of tauiwi [outsiders]," he said in a Radio NZ report.

Dr Walker will be cremated after a funeral service tomorrow.

His farewell will be live-streamed by Maori Television.

For coverage go to www.maoritelevision.com