Joan Kennaway, acclaimed Northland singer, voice coach, Opera North founder and director of Opera in the Garden, has died.

''Joanie'' to husband Rick and other loved ones, Joan Lillian Kennaway QSM died on Saturday.

''It is a strange morning today as we woke with the realisation that Joanie is not here with us any more,'' her family said.

''This, we all know, is not totally unexpected but it didn't lessen the blow. A much treasured wife, a beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother is gone.


"Your Joanie, the life force of Opera North, the gentle encouraging, inspirational talent and musical director who gathered you all together and brought the best out of you all, is no longer.''

Ms Kennaway will be remembered for her own golden voice and her graciousness.

Facebook messages from former students thank her for the inspiration and joy she shared through music, her belief in them and her slightly wicked sense of humour.

''Since our Joanie died on Saturday night the outpouring of heartfelt messages and grief from not only our close friends and family, but the entire community, has really been quite stunning,'' son-in-law Tim Eves said.

''Joanie was a special lady to our family, but it has become obvious in the last few days that she has touched so many people and made such a positive impact in a wide cross section in Te Tai Tokerau.

''It's been a bit difficult to sing a tune since Saturday, but we're hoping the funeral on Thursday will be the joyful musical send off she always wanted and certainly deserves. As a family we are overwhelmed with the messages of support and love. But we know it is love reciprocated by Joanie, and all of us.''