New Zealand politicians have marked the passing of former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, who died yesterday aged 89.

Hawke, a former union boss, was Australia's longest-serving Labor prime minister, serving from 1983 to 1991.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters offered New Zealand's condolences.

"We extend our condolences to his family and to the people of Australia. Bob Hawke was an extraordinary and talented Australian who made a major contribution to his country," Peters said.


"Bob Hawke epitomised a fair go for all Australians. He approached politics with a can-do attitude and will be remembered for being talented, compassionate and charismatic."

Justice Minister Andrew Little paid tribute on Twitter.

"I first met Bob Hawke at an Australian union conference in the 2000s. He was 80, did a brilliant speech about the importance of unions & finished the speech with an incredible baritone rendition of Solidarity Forever. RIP Bob."

National leader Simon Bridges called Hawke the greatest Labor prime minister Australia had.

"He made several very significant and necessary market reforms. On top of that he was a true Aussie larrikin," Bridges said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Green Party said reports that Hawke had been actively supporting Labor's campaign for the federal election this weekend demonstrated his passion and life of service.

"Today Australia enjoys a universal system of healthcare, Medicare, that was introduced by Bob Hawke's government and is a lasting legacy of his leadership.

"Bob Hawke will also be remembered for protecting the Franklin River World Heritage Area in Tasmania, and for seeking a path of consensus rather than conflict with trade unions in the 1980s.

"We send aroha to his family and to the wider Australian community mourning his death."