Police must investigate claims that highly regarded Tauranga iwi leader and educator Te Awanuiārangi (Awanui) Black was a paedophile, say local community leaders.

Anihera Zhou Black claimed in a Facebook live video she made public on Saturday that her late husband, who died 20 months ago, had preyed upon children his whole adult life.

Black, 48, died on November 30, 2016, of organ failure after a short hospital stay.

READ MORE:
Widow of Awanui Black claims he was a paedophile
Anihera Black talks about her husband, a life-long paedophile

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Among his achievements, he was a well-respected Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor, helped pen a Māori dictionary, and sat on the Māori Language Commission.

He was also chairman of the Tauranga Moana Iwi Leaders' Group and was a driving force of Māori Language initiatives and treaty negotiations.

He also stood as a Māori Party candidate for the Tauranga General seat in 2011.

On Facebook, his widow told the world she believed the man she was married for 26 years to and loved was "an imposter" and he had lived a double life.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said he had only learned of these claims on Saturday night along with many others via media reports.

"Awanui Black was an elected member of the regional council representing the Mauao Māori constituency and served two terms in that role.

"I have no idea whether there is any validity to these allegations or not, but they are extremely serious in nature.

"I think it is only appropriate that the respective authorities look into what has been alleged, which I am in no doubt they will do," he said.

Leeder said given the nature of the allegations it was not appropriate to comment further and let any police investigation take its course.

In a written statement, a police spokeswoman said: "Police are aware of the video posted on Facebook and will be seeking further information about the allegations.

"We have no further comment to make at this time."

Ngāi Te Rangi Settlement Trust chairman Charlie Tawhiao said if crimes against children had been committed as alleged, it was only right that police launched an investigation.

"I don't really think it is appropriate for me to comment further at this time," he said.

Ngāti Pūkenga chairman Rehua Smallman said he would seek to meet with Anihera to find out more about the allegations.

Since the claims came to light, well-known artist Graham Hoete, aka Mr G, has painted over most of the large mural of Black he painted on a wall in downtown Mount Maunganui.

Hoete contacted the Tauranga City Council team to have the mural removed, but since that could not be done during the weekend, he decided to paint over it himself.

Artist Mr G has removed most of the mural he painted in honour of Awanui Black on a wall in Mount Maunganui. Photo/George Novak
Artist Mr G has removed most of the mural he painted in honour of Awanui Black on a wall in Mount Maunganui. Photo/George Novak

Most of the mural has now been obscured and he was in discussions with the council to remove the rest on Monday, Hoete said.

"My decision to remove the mural I painted over Awa was out of respect and support for Ani and her family," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

In an Instagram post, Hoete also said Awanui's widow had contacted him to tell him about her video and her disclosure of her late husband's alleged "secret paedophilia" to the public.

"Obviously, if I had known about all that disgusting damaging behaviour I would never have even entertained the thought of painting a mural to honour him."