A highly regarded politician who died 18 months ago was a paedophile, his distraught widow has claimed.

Anihera Zhou Black said her husband - regional councillor and Māori Party candidate Awanui Black - had preyed upon children throughout his adult life.

Te Awanuiārangi Black died aged 48 with organ failure in 2016 after a short hospital stay.

Twenty months later, Anihera Zhou Black was on Facebook trying to deal with fresh emotions as she told the world she believed the man she loved was an imposter.

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Sobbing back tears and occasionally wailing in grief, she said: "I have an announcement to make on behalf of my kids and I and perhaps it will shock a lot of you and perhaps it will help some of you find some comfort."

It was, she said, "something that needs to be done".

Awanui Black, regional councillor, Parliamentary candidate, lecturer and leader.
Awanui Black, regional councillor, Parliamentary candidate, lecturer and leader.

The video spread like wildfire and had been viewed 30,000 times in the handful of hours since being posted this afternoon.

"Those good deeds Awa did for individuals will live on in the memory of their lifetimes.
However the pain and suffering he caused others may live on for generations to come if things are left unsaid."

Anihera Zhou Black said her former husband had come across as a larger-than-life leader with a booming voice but was actually "a shrivelled up cowering soulless shadow of a man".

The couple met aged 15 and married aged 18 before spending 26 years married.

Throughout that time, she said he lived a double life that - she believed - stemmed from sexual abuse he had suffered as a boy.

"In turn it created the same behaviour in Awa. Awa became a paedophile and over the years, honing his skills, waiting for that perfect moment he had preordained to steal the innocence of others.

"I wondered why Awa invited so many young people through our home over the years and I thought it was to be a good aunty and uncle. I know differently now.

"He became a predator, a recruiter, a teacher, a pimp, a ringleader of one of the many child-adult sex rings here in his beloved Tauranga Moana and he took that shit nationwide with all his contacts in every stream of life.

"They would recruit the innocent.... share them around like a box of beer, consume every last drop and discarding the empty vessels into the gutter, soulless, cold and broken.

"I am so extremely sorry and devastated. You are all my babies now and I will do what I can to navigate through your healing process.

Anihera Zhou Black said those who were victims had "permission to speak your truth".

"Take back the power of the secret. It has no power in the light. Give yourself permission to be heard, be it a whisper or a bloodcurdling scream."

She said the family had decided not to go through with an unveiling ceremony for Awanui Black's headstone.

Doing so, she said, would "perpetuate the illusion about who he was, who he wanted us to believe he was".

She said the thought of going ahead "made me feel like an accomplice".

"The people I would talk to in passing would extol his virtues and I would smile politely and on the inside be swallowing back my own vomit."

Awanui Black, pictured on the foreshore of Tauranga Moana after the sinking of the Rena.
Awanui Black, pictured on the foreshore of Tauranga Moana after the sinking of the Rena.

She said she still had love for her husband, particularly knowing aspect of his life that may have led to his predatory behaviour.

Ngāti Pūkenga chairman Rehua Smallman said news of the video had spread like wildfire and stunned the community as it went.

"Many of us in Tauranga Moana are struggling to believe it. I knew Awanui when he was alive and had a lot to do with him. We can't believe it."

He said Ngāti Pūkenga would seek to meet Anihera Zhou Black to find out more about the allegations.

"Many who knew him for a number of years would absolutely refute these allegations his wife put across. It's a shock to everybody."

A police spokesperson said they were aware of the video and would be seeking further information about the allegations.

And in Tauranga today, artist Graham Hoete, also known as Mr G, started painting over a mural he had made of Black.

Awanui Black was the Tauranga Moana Iwi Leaders' Group chairman, a commissioner at the Māori Language Commission, lecturer at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, a treaty negotiator for Te Au Maaro o Ngāti Pūkenga and helped write the first monolingual Māori language dictionary.