North Tec staff and students are mourning the passing of long-standing kaumātua Hohepa Rudolph on Saturday after a long illness.

His tangihanga began at Te Puna o te Mātauranga Marae on NorthTec's Raumanga campus, observing Covid-19 precautions.

He will be laid to rest at Pawarenga.

Mātua Hohepa served as NorthTec's kaumātua from December 2008, NorthTec board chairwoman Ripeka Evans saying he was well-loved by staff and students, and provided guidance to all.

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"Hohepa passes at a time of change and disruption in our communities . His legacy and challenge to us will be to enable a future for our learners while they stay close to home. Noho tata, haere tawhiti.'

Acting chief executive Wayne Jackson said he had been a valued member of NorthTec's senior leadership team, serving as a leader in all matters of Te Ao Māori.

"He led many pōwhiri and other cultural events during his years at NorthTec, and was known for his kindness and generosity with regard to explaining tikanga and the meaning of Māori ceremonies, especially to our international students and guests," he said.

"He was very well known to staff, and was regarded with great fondness by many people, who are now mourning his loss.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mātua Hohepa's whānau at this time, and with all those people who are filled with sadness over his passing. We are honoured to be able to poroporoaki Mātua Hohepa at Te Puna o te Mātauranga, as this reflects our respect for his deeds and his deep connection to NorthTec, its staff and students."