Former All Black Mike Burgoyne has passed away suddenly while in Fiji.
Kaitaia car dealer Archibald Cars posted on its Facebook page yesterday the death of their former employee, who worked for the dealership for more than 10 years.
Owner Brian Archibald said Burgoyne was a great asset to the business.
"He turned to car sales 14 years ago and worked with us for 11 and a half years. He was very much a perfectionist and was very neat and tidy in how he went about his work," he said.
"He won the Mitsubishi Motors mystery shopping quiz three years in a row, best sales person on the road"
"Our sympathies go to the family."
At this point in time, no funeral plans have been made as the family works to get his body back to New Zealand.
Rosemary Archibald said he was selfless in his approach to car sales.
"He was incredibly passionate about Mitsubishi. He put the customers first and put their interests ahead of anything else," she said.
Ngāti Kahu Te Iwi Chief Executive Ānahera Herbert-Graves posted a message of condolence to Facebook.
"We are in utter shock to hear of the untimely passing in Fiji of a beloved son of Te Hiku o Te Ika and Ngāti Kahu," she said.
"At this time Hohepa Rameka is with his whānau and we will send you details of the tangihanga as they come to hand. But for now we simply mourn the loss of this lovely man, and send our every thought and prayer to his sweetheart and whanau."
Mangonui Rugby Sub-union chairman Barry Murray met Burgoyne in the early 1970s and remembers his friend, teammate, and sometimes opponent as a "very fast, and very devastating number 7".
"As a loose forward he put the fear of God into a lot of backs who tried to run past or through him. He was fast, very strong and you'd know it when he tackled you," he said.
When Murray played for Kaitaia Rugby Club, he would come up against Burgoyne, then with Awanui Rugby Club. The pair went on to play for the regional representative side together.
Murray said he set an example for younger players through his discipline, clean lifestyle and "superb" fitness.
"He was just a pleasure to play with, someone who always inspired and encouraged you to be better at your game," Murray said. "He was very positive for younger players and he was a leader in many respects on and off the field."
He said Burgoyne was also family and community orientated, and in his later years became well-known around Kaitaia for his after-work walks around town.
"He would walk with his wife Carolyn every evening. Rain, hail or shine, he'd be out there. He had his circuit of the township, he'd be walking and loving it and engaging with the community."
New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Winston Peters said his party offered their condolences to the family and friends of Burgoyne.
"His name stands among the many fine rugby players Northland has produced over the years."
Burgoyne played 31 matches for North Auckland between 1975 and 1981, and was selected to play for the All Blacks in 1979. He played six matches for New Zealand, and played for the New Zealand Maori side between 1975-1979.
He was aged 65.