Former MP Hone Harawira has been given the inaugural Dame Tariana Turia Award for his work highlighting the impact of smoking on Maori and Pacific Island people in New Zealand.

The award was announced at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference in Hobart.

Dame Tariana was a fearless advocate for tobacco control, a previous co-leader of the Maori Party and a champion for reducing inequalities in Maori smoking rates.

The award recognised the need for reducing harm within indigenous communities and was open to entries from across NZ, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

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The MANA Party leader and former Te Tai Tokerau MP was the driving force behind an inquiry into the tobacco industry and the impact of smoking on Maori by the the Maori Affairs select committee.

As a result, the committee's report contained the blueprint for furthering tobacco control in New Zealand, and led to the setting of the Governments Smokefree New Zealand 2025 goal.

Dame Tariana was not able to attend the award presentation.

The conference was told the award recognised some of the gains in health from smoking reduction have been inequitably distributed.

Across Australasia and the Pacific indigenous people still suffered disproportionately from tobacco-related harm.

The theme of the three-day conference was From vision to reality: A tobacco-free Oceania.