Award-winning producer and legendary newsman Keith Slater has died, aged 68, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

As recently as this year he was still involved with investigative documentaries, but in recent days his health deteriorated.

He was known for mentoring some of the top names in journalism in a career as executive producer of shows including 3 News, Nightline, A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, and 20/20.

NZ Herald reporter Carolyne Meng-Yee and her husband Mike Valintine were close to Slater.

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She said she'd remember him as one of the kindest, funniest men, who had a great sense of compassion.

"He had a great sense of fairness, and that priority of reporting without fear or favour.

"Keith taught me two things. That 'the get' is one thing, but it's what you do with the get.

"And then structure, structure, structure. He was really tough on structure.

"At the time I thought he was so grumpy about it, but they're two things I've never forgotten."

She said Slater loved a good glass of sauvignon blanc, and all the better if it washed down some Bluff oysters.

Newsroom journalist Melanie Reid said when she thought of Keith, she thought of kindness, tolerance, and intelligence.

"His disdain for injustice and his drive for the truth motivated his every move as a journalist and as a New Zealander.

"I have been so fortunate to have had Keith as my producer, my mentor and friend since my early twenties.

"We have worked together for nearly twenty five years and he has produced 95 per cent of my television stories.

"Keith always said 'journalism is the cornerstone of democracy'.

"He lived and breathed journalism, and the media world without him will be a very different place for a great many of us."

Slater started out his career in the Waikato, before moving to Wellington to cover agriculture for TVNZ.

He took up the reins of producing Fair Go in the late 80s.

When TV3 started in 1989, he was one of the first on their list to be approached for an executive producer role.

His time there included roles with 3 News, Nightline, A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, and 20/20. His work earned top recognition, winning the award for Best News and Current Affairs Programme three times.

Slater went back to TVNZ in the early 2000s, but in 2002 he returned to TV3 to take up the role of Auckland Bureau Chief.

In 2016, when TV3 had become Newshub, Slater left the channel.

Through 2017 he focused on producing mini-documentaries, with the help of funding from New Zealand On Air.

He remained convinced that journalism would survive tough times, including long-form journalism.

"There's enough room for all of us: TV, radio, new media," Slater told NZ On Screen.

"There will be enough room."