Celebrated Ngati Hine leader and te reo Maori advocate Erima Henare has died.

Mr Henare was the head of the Maori Language Commission, an advisor to the Maori King, and a respected authority on the ancient and modern history, reo and tikanga of Te Tai Tokerau.

He was the son of Lady Rose Henare and Sir James Henare, who rose from the rank of private to commanding officer of the Maori Battalion during World War II.

Mr Henare was also a father and grandfather. One of his sons, Peeni Henare, is the Labour MP for Tamaki Makaurau.


Among other public, advisory and educational sector posts, Mr Henare was executive director of Maori at Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, a member of the Waitangi National Trust Board and a Maori cultural adviser to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

He has also been a member of Creative New Zealand, New Zealand Arts Council, Northland District Health Board member, and other regional and national boards and committees.

Mr Henare was at a Labour function at Parliament last night. Maori Television reported that he died overnight.

Sir Wira Gardiner and former National MP Tau Henare, a relation, were among those to pay tribute on social media this morning.

- NZ Herald