NZ First stalwart Tommy Gear has died after an extended and valiant battle with his health.

Gear was a life member of the party and had been Winston Peters' most trusted adviser for 26 years.

Today as the sun shone out over Waiteti Marae in Rotorua, more than 500 people farewelled the man that has left a big hole in the party.

His nephew, party deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau, said he was a major part of the foundation for building New Zealand First and a true stalwart of the party.

Advertisement

"Tommy Gear was a trusted confidant, a loyal, honest, and passionate New Zealand First supporter and member who strongly believed in the party.

Tommy Gear, a stalwart of New Zealand First, has died. Photo / Richard Harman
Tommy Gear, a stalwart of New Zealand First, has died. Photo / Richard Harman

"In September last year at New Zealand First's 25th-anniversary conference, both Tommy and his wife Mary were honoured with life membership in recognition of their dedicated service to the party."

Tabuteau remembers Gear, among many things, as a successful businessman who contributed to many lives.

"We hope that you will all find some peace in the legacy that Tommy leaves behind.

"That of a great husband and father, for the pillar of strength he provided to New Zealand First, and for the pivotal role he played in shaping New Zealand's political history."

Tauranga New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell was at the funeral and spoke about his close friend and mentor that held strong values of integrity and honour.

"He will be greatly missed. He was 'the' senior advisor and had a pivotal role in the party.

"He was there right down from the very first time ideas were jotted down on paper about New Zealand First."

Gear had a long history of heart problems and died on Saturday night from a heart attack he could not recover from.

He has been buried in Rotorua next to his parents.