A Ngāpuhi leader described as a tireless advocate for his people, a lifelong Labour loyalist and "a big man with a big heart" has died.
Kaumātua Rudy Taylor died on Sunday evening after being ill for some time.
Taylor, who picked up the mantle of leadership from his father, the esteemed elder and Waitangi Tribunal member Mac Taylor, held many senior roles in iwi, political and sport organisations at local and national level.
He served as the chairman of Te Rūnanga-a-iwi o Ngāpuhi but later became an outspoken critic of the organisation, co-leading a group called Te Kotahitanga o ngā Hapu Ngāpuhi which opposed the mandate sought by Tuhoronuku to negotiate a Treaty settlement on behalf of all Ngāpuhi.
He was also a lifelong Labour loyalist who held key positions in the Tai Tokerau electorate committee and the party's national council.
On October 10, during her last pre-election visit to Northland, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited his home in Whangārei to award Taylor and his wife Kaye life membership of the Labour Party in recognition of their long service.
Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis said he wouldn't have become the MP for Tai Tokerau without the Taylors' support.
''Rudy was a big man with a big heart. He was my friend and one of my staunchest supporters,'' Davis wrote in a social media post yesterday.
''Rudy threw himself into everything he did with full commitment, be that rugby league, or working towards resolving the Ngāpuhi issue, or supporting the Labour Party ... He will be sorely missed by whānau right throughout the Hokianga, throughout the Labour Party, and throughout the league fraternity.''
The Taylors had been his backbone through a number of campaigns, Davis said.
''I rely on them for advice and guidance, we laugh together, we argue, we have major political discussions, and underlying everything we strive to work out what we could do better for our Māori people.''
Davis was expected to fly to Northland yesterday to support the whānau as soon as Parliament concluded its business for the day.
Haami Piripi, chairman of Hokianga iwi Te Rarawa, said as a son of revered kaumātua Mac Taylor and with heritage on both sides of the harbour, Taylor was steeped in the ethic of ''Hokianga hard''.
He was politically active from a young age and devoted his life to serving the people of the Hokianga and Tai Tokerau.
Taylor was also a top league player in his youth and later contributed to the game's administration.
''He's been a tireless community worker and an advocate for his people against injustice. He had a big influence in his life and he put it to use for his people,'' Piripi said.
Labour's Tai Tokerau chairman Haydn Edmonds said Taylor had served his people and mentored the electorate's MPs for decades.
''After Sir Graham Latimer died he took on the responsibility of advocating for Māori in Northland. He's worked tirelessly for many, many years. It's a huge loss for iwi and hapū in Northland.''
Outgoing Ngāpuhi chairwoman Mere Mangu described Taylor as a "larger than life icon from the Hokianga" who would be sorely missed.
The details of Taylor's hui mate had yet to be confirmed last night.