Hundreds of people have turned out to farewell a much loved former teacher described as the life of Rotorua Boys' High School.

Hundreds of people have turned out to farewell a much loved former teacher described as the life of Rotorua Boys' High School. Photo / Ben Fraser
Hundreds of people have turned out to farewell a much loved former teacher described as the life of Rotorua Boys' High School. Photo / Ben Fraser

A rousing haka rang out at Mataatua Marae as the body of Hori Kaiwai was escorted on to the grounds, surrounded by family, friends, students and former colleagues.

The 67-year-old former Boys' High teacher died in a car crash on State Highway 5, near Maraeroa Rd, north of Rotorua, on Monday morning.

Hori Kaiwai was a teacher at Rotorua Boys' High School for 19 years. Photo / Supplied
Hori Kaiwai was a teacher at Rotorua Boys' High School for 19 years. Photo / Supplied

Rotorua Boys' High School principal Chris Grinter said Kaiwai taught at the school for 19 years before retiring in 2014.

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But he continued to live across the road from the school where he spent his entire teaching career, Grinter said.

Teaching was not Kaiwai's first career - he initially worked as a mechanic, something that led to him teaching in the school's technology department.

The body of Hori Kaiwai has been brought on to Mataatua Marae for his tangi. Photo / Ben Fraser
The body of Hori Kaiwai has been brought on to Mataatua Marae for his tangi. Photo / Ben Fraser

He also taught Maori at the school, managed the school's waka ama team, and was the kaumatua for both Boys' High and Rotorua Girls' High School kapa haka groups.

"He was a very colourful, loved staff member," Grinter said.

"He was totally supportive of everything Raukura stands for."

Kaiwai was a grandson of notable politician Sir Apirana Ngata.

"He had this wonderful family and history that he could share with us," Grinter said.

Ibrahim Soloman was a student at Boys' High from 2004 to 2007, and was taught Maori and Maori Studies by Kaiwai.

He said his former teacher had a "warmth about him that no other teacher or person at the school could have had".

"Raukura is Raukura because of Hori Kaiwai.

"His legacy and legend at Raukura is analogous to the impact his tipuna Apirana Ngata had on the Maori people."

Kaiwai was the "life of the party and the life of the school".

"The beauty of Hori Kaiwai was that it didn't matter if you were non-Maori, he took you under his wing.

"Everyone at Boys' High wanted to be in his class."

In a tribute posted on the Rotorua Boys' High School Facebook page, Kaiwai was described as a "legend".

"Kaumatua, teacher, colleague, mentor and friend to many staff and hundreds of young men of Raukura over 19 years from 1996 to 2014."

Dozens of comments on the post paid tribute to Kaiwai, describing him as "the realest of all teachers" and "a lovely man".

Kaiwai's body will be taken to St Michael's Church in Palmerston North tomorrow morning, with a service set to take place at 11am on Friday.