Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is among those paying tribute to former Māori Affairs and Labour MP Koro Wētere, who has died aged 83.
Wētere was Minister of Māori Affairs from 1984 to 1990 in the Labour Government and played a key role in te reo Māori being recognised as an official language, and the resolution of the Māori fisheries settlement.
Wētere, who died in Te Kuiti Hospital this morning, was made a CBE in 1996 for services to Māori.
Ardern, still in Auckland City Hospital after the birth of her daughter, passed on her respects through a spokesman.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said, on behalf of the Government, he wanted to acknowledge the contribution Wētere had made to the country and his remarkable service as an MP for more than quarter of a century.
"Koro was highly respected across the divide of politics for his sincerity and integrity. Our deepest condolences are extended to his family and to Ngāti Maniapoto for their loss," Peters said.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark wrote on Twitter that Wētere was a much-valued colleague for many years and a Labour stalwart, Tainui elder and had dedicated his life to public service.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges has also paid tribute.
Whānau spokesperson Hone Edwards told Māori Television Wētere would be taken to Turangawaewae Marae this afternoon.