Sir Peter Tapsell, 82, the first Maori Speaker of the House, died in his sleep at his Ruatoria farm last night.

Sir Peter entered Parliament as a Labour MP in 1981 and remained until 1996.

He was born and lived in Rotorua for much of his life.

He help the internal affairs, arts, police and defence portfolios during his career.

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Sir Peter was the first Maori speaker of the House from 1993 to 1996. He was the first member of an opposition party to serve as a speaker.

He worked as an orthopaedic surgeon before becoming and MP.

Ohariu MP Peter Dunne tweeted that Sir Peter Tapsell was a fine New Zealander in every sense: "My deepest condolences and sympathy to his family."

Sir Peter had two sons and two daughters.

He would be taken to Maketu Marae for a tangi tomorrow.