Well-known and highly respected Ngāti Ranginui iwi leader Colin Bidois has died.
Bidois, 89, a former chairman of Ngāti Ranginui died in Tauranga Hospital on Monday.
He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2017 for his unflinching dedication to strengthening Maoridom, which included leading the negotiations for the return of Mauao to tribal ownership.
Bidois was also instrumental in establishing Te Runanganui o Tauranga Moana - a council of four iwi Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pukenga and Waitaha, whose main task was to negotiate with the Crown and the council to return Mauao to iwi ownership.
He also represented his iwi in the three years of negotiations with the Government that led to the historic carving up of fishing quota among New Zealand iwi.
A tangi will be held at Poututerangi Marae in Te Puna from 11am on Thursday.
Bidois' body will be carried on to the Marae at 9am tomorrow, his long-term friend
Tommy Wilson, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui iwi descent, said.
"Colin was a past chairman of Ngāti Ranginui iwi and a much-loved kaumatua of Te Puna," Wilson said.
"He grew up in the Ureweras with the Tuhoe people as his father was the local policeman and the name he carries of Maungapohatu is very sacred to Tuhoe."
"Colin was our Pirirakau Treaty settlement negotiator and I had the privilege of sitting at his side for most of the meetings during those long years of 'eyeballing' the crown to get the best possible outcome for our people," Wilson said.
"During these last testing times when Colin's health was failing, I spent treasured moments at his bedside and he gave me the honour of looking after his vast library collection and all of the research taonga he accumulated during his raupatu findings."
This will be housed in a reference room at the newly opened Te Puna Hall, Wilson said.
"Colin could walk easily in both worlds of Māori and non-Māori and this held him in good stead to work wonders for the tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana.
"His most treasured taonga was seeing Mauao returned under his leadership - with other community kingpins and kaumatua of Tauranga Moana."
Wilson said Bidios was also a qualified boxing referee.
"More than once I witnessed him pulling out his referee's card when discussions got a bit heated around the board room negotiating table. He was a beautiful kind man with a heart bigger than Mauao itself."
Wilson said Bidois had left a "huge legacy" of learning behind.
"Au revoir mon ami Maungapohatu," he said.
Former Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said Bidois had been sick for quite a while.
"While Colin's death was not unexpected, it is always very sad when some of Colin's standing and mana in our community dies, " he said.
"Colin was educationalist at heart and he spent a lot of time in council and on various groups and committees and we benefited from his wise advice and guidance about the importance of building relationships between Tangata Whenua and the council. "
Crosby said during his time as mayor, Bidois was probably one of the first local iwi leaders to come to the council to raise the issue of the historical Treaty grievances.
"But Colin was always very polite and courteous when raising those concerns, but he never resiled from his cultural roots."
"Colin always used to say what was good for Māori was good for the whole community."
Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Garry Webber said he was deeply saddened to learn of Bidois' passing.
"Colin was an incredible man in terms of his contribution to the Western Bay district both from a Māori perspective and his great service to the wider community.
"He was the sort of person who could easily walk in both worlds, particularly when you look at some of the tensions between tangata whenua and local government elsewhere."
"Colin was a great leader of his day and it's very sad that due to the Covid-19 restrictions not everyone who wants to attend his tangi to pay their respects can do so, Webber said.
"He was such a highly respected man and community leader, who has left a great legacy for others to try to emulate and follow his example," Webber said.
Bay of Plenty electorate MP Todd Muller said he was saddened to learn of Bidois' death.
"Colin made an extraordinary contribution to Tauranga and to the wider community over many years. He was a remarkable man and an intensely humble person, " Muller said.
"Colin was very much a figure of extraordinary grace and huge mana, and the loss of this remarkable man will be deeply felt across this community," he said.
Bidois is survived by his wife and soulmate Wikitoria, his children Barry, Michelle, Denise, John, Louise and Matthew, his brother Charles and his many mokopuna tuarua.