Northland's Ngāti Hine people are in mourning, following the death of well-known kaumātua, and Waitangi stalwart, Pita Paraone.

Paraone died at 2am this morning in Auckland Hospital.

A whānau member says the much-loved elder had heart surgery about three weeks ago, and failed to recover.


Paraone was known for his quiet but firm diplomacy and was for many years the programme organiser for Waitangi Day, and the chair of the Waitangi National Trust.

He was also a former NZ First MP.

His family are now preparing to bring him north for the tangihana at his home marae in Mōtatau in the Bay of Islands.

New Zealand First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said his party was deeply saddened to learn of Paraone's death.

"On behalf of New Zealand First let me express our condolences to Pita's wife, Elva, his three children and wider whānau," said Peters.

"Northland and the people of New Zealand have lost a man who cared deeply for his people and country, and worked endlessly to make New Zealand a better country for us all," Peters said.

Paraone was first elected to Parliament in 2002 and served three terms.

He was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community in 1997 and also spent a lengthy period serving on the board of the Waitangi National Trust.