Te Arawa kaumatua and leading tribal orator Te Wano Walters has left a legacy of love and respect.

Walters died on Saturday night, aged 84.

Walters' daughter Jo Cassidy describes her father as a true gentleman who taught each of his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren to strive and be the best they could.

"He was the type of dad you could approach at any time and talk to about anything and everything," Cassidy said. "He was a gorgeous father."


Married to Puni for close to 60 years, Walters and his wife had the "kind of marriage that could be used as an example of what a marriage should be", Cassidy said.

"They adored each other. There was real romance between them and after Dad got sick, you could see the strength of their union and the respect they had for each other shine through."

Born in Rotorua and bred in Maketu, Walters was a "bushman" in his early years, working in Kaingaroa Forest near Tokoroa for many years.

"He worked for New Zealand Forest Products for a long time before he and Mum started their own crew."

He was well-known and well-respected within forestry circles, attracting the nickname Governor or Govie for short.

"Dad was very community-minded and did a lot for Maketu; in fact many decisions he made were with Maketu and its community in the back of his mind."

In 2008, Walters received a Queen's Service Order in the Queen's Birthday Honours, for services to Maori.

As well as being a leading tribal orator for Te Arawa and senior kaumatua for Whakaue Marae, he also established Whaikorero Wananga to help train the next generation of Maori orators in Maketu and Rotorua.

As an inaugural member of the Bay of Plenty police district Maori Advisory Board, he helped unite 500 local Maori representatives to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between police and 14 iwi in the district in 2000.

Deputy chief executive and assistant commissioner Wallace Haumaha QSM, said Walters carried himself with humility and dignity.

"What Te Wano achieved as part of the Maori advisory board set a precedent for boards throughout the country," Haumaha said.

"This was the very first MOU signed between police and iwi and, since then, there has been a shift of culture between police and iwi throughout the country.

"Te Wano's contribution to this was significant."

He said Walters had been a mentor and not just a friend, but whanau.

Walters has served as chair of Te Hunga Manaaki O Te Puke, a local social service organisation. He also established the Kaituna River Wetlands Iwi Management Authority, which is responsible for the development of the Kaituna Wetlands.

"As well as being at the head of a tight-knit whanau, mum and dad also opened their doors to everyone. Dad always made himself available to whoever needed him."

Walters is survived by four of his five children, 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He is lying at Whakaue Marae where a service will be held at 11am on Wednesday.