Close to 1000 mourners have gathered to farewell respected kaumātua Dr Kihi Ngatai, QSM, who is being laid to rest today.
Ngatai, of Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, died on Sunday, aged 91, surrounded by whānau.
Manuhiri were welcomed on to Whareroa Marae to begin the service this morning.
The full funeral service started at 10am before the procession left for Tūtereinga Marae at Te Puna to lay Ngatai to rest at Epeha urupā, alongside his beloved wife Maria Hokimate Ngatai.
Turi Ngatai made the crowd laugh as he opened the eulogy for his father. He said he didn't have anymore tears and spoke fondly of the partnership between his parents, and the legacy Kihi left behind.
Turi was asked by his mother some years ago to speak at the tangi of his sister. He also said the eulogy again in 2017 for his mother.
While he sang Singin' in the Rain, Turi said it would be his sister and mother who were dancing today, as Kihi returned to them.
"He has been lonely. He's been missing her, he's been to the urupa - there was a well trodden track.
"He was ready to go."
As Kihi left Whareroa on his last journey to Tūtereinga Marae, he was flanked by kapa haka groups and whānau alike.
The emotion could be felt throughout the crowd, and heard across the harbour.
Maria Ngatai was a former Tauranga District Council (as it was known then) member who served between 1992 and 1995. She died in 2017.
Kihi Ngatai is survived by his children Rikihana, Turi, Kihi jnr and Ngawa, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He joins wife Maria as well as his eldest daughter, Puharangi, and his parents and siblings.
The life of Kihi Ngatai
Te Puni Kokiri reported the couple planted the first kiwifruit vines in the Tauranga area more than 40 years ago.
In 2006, they were each honoured with a Queen's Service Medal in recognition for their contributions to Māori and the wider community.
Kihi Ngatai was also awarded a Ta Kingi Ihaka Toi Māori award in 2009, and was the first chairman of Te Runanga o Ngāi Te Rangi.
He was appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2008 and despite no longer being a member, still served on inquiry panels.
Ngatai spent most of his life in 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 Maungatapu Marae Trust, Ngatai 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.