Eighty-five years after one of New Zealand's greatest poets was born near Kaikohe, his body will return north to rest in the arms of his ancestors.
Hone Tuwhare, whose work touched both the ordinary person and the scholar, received this country's most distinguished literary awards and honours.
The much-loved "people's poet" died in his sleep in Dunedin on Wednesday afternoon, aged 85.
After lying in state in Dunedin, his body will be brought to Northland for his tangi. The marae has yet to be named.
Jimi Rapatini, who is a cousin of Tuwhare's, said whanau in Kaikohe were expecting the poet's body to be returned there either this afternoon or tomorrow.
Yesterday family and friends in Balclutha held a service for Tuwhare.
"I reckon it will be Sunday he will arrive here, I can't see the people down there letting him go too quickly," said Mr Rapatini.
"We're all just waiting to see what's happening."
Mr Rapatini said whanau were making arrangements for his tangi where hundreds of mourners were expected to converge on Te Kotahitanga Marae in Kaikohe.
He said it was still unclear whether Tuwhare would be cremated or buried.
"The last thing I heard was they're either going to cremate him or bury him where his mother was buried at Wharepaepae. Hongi Hika is buried there, it's a cemetery for powerful people."
Tuwhare had lived for many years in a cottage by the sea at Kaka Pt, south Otago.
Tributes were pouring in for the wordsmith who was a household name. Far North Maori MP Shane Jones described Tuwhare as "top shelf, in every way, really - which people who knew him will understand".
He recalled a night of shared conviviality some years ago during which Tuwhare "promised to write me a poem about himself, me and Hoani Waaka".
"I thought for a while there must be some ancestor I didn't know about and thought I'd better ask my people about it, then realised he meant Johnnie Walker [whisky]." Mr Jones said Tuwhare's poetry had a profound effect on him and his mates when they were students at St Stephen's School in the 1970s, and first heard No Ordinary Sun.
"He captured in that poem and in others a challenge to us to raise our consciousness. The [Maori] renaissance hadn't come through at that time, so he was truly ahead of his time."
Prime Minister Helen Clark described Tuwhare's death as a great loss to New Zealand. She said he was a wonderful poet and man - "one of the loveliest and most generous spirited people you could ever meet".
- NORTHERN ADVOCATE