Former race relations commissioner and Māori All Black Hiwi Tauroa - affectionately known as Matua Hiwi - has passed away aged 91.

Edward Te Rangihiwinui Tauroa, better known as Hiwi - a much loved husband and poppa, died on Tuesday surrounded by his whānau.

He leaves behind a committed wife of 60 years, six children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Tauroa, who lived in Hokianga, packed a list of achievements in to his 91 years.

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He was Race Relations Commissioner during the Springbok Tour of '81 and was instrumental in the anti-apartheid campaign and supporting marches through the streets of Auckland.

He was principal at Auckland's Wesley College from 1968 to 1974 and Tuakau College from 1974 to 1979.

Just over a week ago Tauroa and his whānau attended the open day for Paerata Rise - the urban development between Karaka and Pukekohe - to unveil the sign for the street named after him - Hiwi Tauroa Rd.

Paerata Rise held a special significance to Tauroa as that is where Wesley College has been relocated.

Hiwi Tauroa leaves behind a committed wife of 60 years, six children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Photo/Supplied
Hiwi Tauroa leaves behind a committed wife of 60 years, six children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Photo/Supplied

Tauroa was also a Māori All Black from 1951 to 1954, and later coached the 1979 Counties NPC Championship team. His love for rugby continued throughout the years and he travelled often to watch his beloved Counties play.

After serving as Race Relations Commissioner from 1979 to 1985, Tauroa moved to his haukāinga (home), Kaeo, and was appointed chair of Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa.

A visionary for Māori-China relations, he established the NZ China Māori Friendship Association in 1984 at the bequest of Rewi Alley and cultivated many iwi and Māori organisations' relationships with Chinese businesses based on tikanga and whanaungatanga; the Māori process and principles to develop mutually beneficial relationships.

He also served as chairman of Te Māngai Paho and the NZ Sports Foundation, and was a former Board Member on the Massey University Council, the NZ Council for Educational Research, the NZ Principals Association, the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Trust Board and the Te Tai Tokerau Māori Trust Board.

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Tauroa will be taken to Te Pātūnga Marae in Whangaroa on Wednesday at 11am. Funeral arrangements are to be confirmed.