Tauranga kaumātua Dr Kihi Ngatai QSM has died.
A moment's silence was observed in today's Tauranga City Council meeting to mark Ngatai's passing.
Ngatai, 91, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, was considered a representative of all of Tauranga Moana.
Ngatai was awarded a Queen's Birthday Honour in 2006, a Ta Kingi Ihaka Toi Maori award in 2009, was the first chairman of Te Runanga o Ngāi Te Rangi.
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Fellow Tauranga kaumatua Hauata Palmer knew Ngatai personally as both served on the Waitangi Tribunal. In 2014 the pair were presented with honorary doctorates for their contribution to Māori welfare and interests.
"We always regarded him as spokesperson for Ngāi te Rangi iwi and for the whole of Maoridom in Tauranga," Palmer said.
Kaumātua are elders in Māori society, are held in high esteem, and often have a variety of roles within their whānau, hapū and iwi, according to the Te Ara website.
Ngatai spent most of his life on the Matapihi peninsula where his governance experience grew from converting the family dairy farm into a kiwifruit orchard.
He also served as the director of the Māori kiwifruit growers fraternity, Te Awanui Hukapak Limited, for several years.
As a trustee of Te Pā o Te Ariki Trust and the Maungatapu Marae Trust, he was involved in the decades-long battle to have Transpower move powerlines in Maungatapu and particularly off Te Pā o Te Ariki, the pā site of Ngāti Hē.