The International Astronomical Union (IAU) centre has approved an asteroid to be named after former Ngāi Tahu leader Tahu Potiki.
Director of Otago Museum and astronomer Dr Ian Griffin revealed in a tweet today that asteroid 101462 was to receive its new name, following its discovery in 1998.
He wrote: "Delighted that the IAU WGSBN have approved a proposal I made to name asteroid (101462) I discovered back in 1998 after someone who I greatly admired and is sadly missed."
Tahu Potiki (1966–2019) was a significant Māori leader who served as chief executive of South Island iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
"He was an inspirational leader, a wise mentor, and above all a friend who helped me understand the importance of working towards a bicultural future for everyone in New Zealand." Griffin told the Herald.
The leader was said to be staunch and his business stature led him to be included on a power list of influential people in The Press in 2005.
In November 2014, Potiki was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease, receiving a liver transplant in 2017. He died in 2019 aged 52.
Potiki has been described as a man whose legacy lives on, a man with big dreams and big opinions who left big shoes to fill.
"Tahu was an inspirational person who I got to know very well after I moved to Dunedin in 2013 to become Director of the Otago Museum."
"His contribution to Kai Tahu (Ngāi Tahu) was immense and is widely recognised. What might not be so well known is his massive contribution to and influence on our thinking at the Otago Museum about what it means to be a bicultural institution in the 21st century."
Potiki was said to be "extraordinarily influential" as he encouraged the Museum's science centre Tūhura to embrace Kai Tahu stories when it opened in 2017.
"He gifted us the poem which threads its way through the centre to this day. His wisdom, historical expertise and willingness to share it with us was totally inspirational."
Griffin said it's important to him to make a small personal recognition of his impact, "which is why I proposed naming an asteroid I found back in 1998 in his honour".
Griffin has discovered 26 asteroids, all of which orbit the sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Griffin has named all of his found asteroids after people he deeply respects, and his respect for Potiki remains unquestioned.