Well-known Ngāti Hine kaumātua, politician and Waitangi stalwart, Pita Paraone died at 2am this morning in Auckland Hospital.

Paraone, aged 73, had not recovered from heart surgery he underwent three weeks ago. Paraone is survived by his wife Elva, their three children and grandchildren.

He had a long career in the public service and was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community in 1997.

He entered parliament as a New Zealand First List MP in 2002.

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Paraone was an MP for three terms in total, and had been the party's spokesperson on Māori and Pacific Island affairs as well as the Treaty of Waitangi.

Paraone stepped down at the 2017 election, throwing his support behind the party's embrace of Labour and the Greens, saying the union was good for New Zealand.

He was considered a quiet but determined achiever, and fair minded, by those who worked both with and against him in his public posts, not least of which was his time spent supporting and leading the Waitangi National Trust.

Paraone spent years as the programme organiser for Waitangi Day and was on the Waitangi National Trust for 20 years, eight of those as chairman.

He was instrumental in moving the annual protest-ridden pōwhiri for the Crown from the Waitangi Marae at Te Tii, often called the ''Lower Marae'', to the Treaty Grounds two years ago.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he is deeply saddened by the death of Paraone. Peters describes his colleague as a NZ First stalwart and sends his condolences to Elva Paraone and the whānau.

"Northland, and the people of New Zealand, have lost a man who cared deeply for his people and country, and worked endlessly to make New Zealand a better country for us all," Peters said.

Paraone's tangihana will be at his home marae in Mōtatau, Bay of Islands.

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