The late Maori leader Te Awanuiarangi Black's legacy will live on through the naming of a new oil spill response boat.

A special ceremony was held at Tauranga's waterfront on Tuesday to bless the $600,000 boat that will help Bay of Plenty Regional Council's maritime team with oil spill response, navigation aid maintenance and safety on the water.

The vessel was named after Mr Black, who died three weeks after winning re-election on to the council's Mauao Maori seat.

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Mr Black's wife Anihera Zhou Black said her husband would have been "stoked" to have the boat named after him.

"He had a lot to do with the Mauao Trust and the Astrolabe Reef disaster.

"He was a staunch promoter of all things Tauranga Moana."

Ms Black said it was "quite ironic" considering her connection to the moana as a voyager.

"I did the voyage from New Zealand to Easter Island with Jack Thatcher in 2012," she said.

Her latest was a youth development voyage with the Hawaiki Rising Voyaging Trust on their waka Hinemoana.

The family first discussed ways to pay tribute to her husband at a regional council meeting in 2012.

Ms Black said the family had talked about honouring Awanui through an education scholarship to help students studying biology or other sea-related courses.

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There had been many tributes made to Awanui throughout Tauranga, she said.

"Tommy Kapai Wilson named one of the homeless shelters after Awa - Whare Awa.

"Paora Stanley also wanted to create an online forum like TedTalks, called Awa Talks. Paora knew Awa since he was 13, in the moana he probably had the longest connection with Awa."

Awanui was the newest addition to the fleet of six boats and one jet ski, and was funded through the council's Long-term Plan.

It is an 11.25m oil spill response/multi role vessel capable of rapid deployment of specialist oil recovery and containment equipment.

The boat can carry loads of up to 7000kg and will service the Bay inshore limits in a range of weather conditions.

Tauranga harbourmaster Peter Buell said the new boat meant in the event of an oil spill the crew could now receive oil from on the water.

"We have not had this capability before ... we can now support Civil Defence if they need it."

Regional on-scene commander for marine oil spills Adrian Heays said the boat could carry out routine maintenance and repairs of the navigational aids of the harbour and recover debris from the water.

"We wanted something that was quick and this is very quick to deploy. It covers a range of oils including diesel, heavy fuels."


AWANUI:

Awanui is an 11.25m multi-role vessel capable of:
- Rapid deployment of specialist oil recovery and containment equipment
- Carrying out routine maintenance and repairs of navigational aids of Tauranga Harbour
- Recovering debris from the water
- Carrying loads of up to 7000kg