Influential Hawke's Bay master carver and artist Hugh Tareha, whose work is visible across the Hawke's Bay landscape, died suddenly on Thursday.
A specialist with native timber, the Ngāti Parau artist's work includes figures shaped from tree stumps beside State Highway 50 at Waiohiki golf course, near where he has been based as a resident artist at Waiohiki Creative Arts Village.
Descendant of paramount Ahuriri chief Tareha Te Moananui, a big feature of his work includes large pou at the historic Otarara Pā site overlooking the Tutaekuri River, the Heretaunga Plains and the city of Napier that developed from inland waterway Te Whanganui a Orotu.
There are also sculptures at Ahuriri Estuary and West Quay, and work at the EIT Otatara campus in Taradale, on marae including Waiohiki and Pukemokimoki, and the waharoa entering the Napier Port's kororā sanctuary.
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Also known for his carving of Māori weaponry, his work has been highly visible to tourists and other visitors, and has been recognised by such people as legendary American rock guitarist Joe Walsh, of The Eagles, and a visitor to Otatara, and business luminary Kevin Roberts.
His humble nature was almost as legendary as the carving, and brother-in-law Denis O'Reilly said: "He had the calloused hands of a carver, and diamonds on the soles of his shoes."
He died shortly after a salsa practice in Napier, at the age of 63. There was salsa on Sunday night at Waiohiki Marae, where his final service is to start at 11am tomorrow.