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It was a fitting farewell for someone who didn't have a lot of time for pomp and ceremony - a simple service for a humble man.
Rotorua and Te Arawa's official historian Donald Murray Stafford was laid to rest yesterday at Kauae Cemetery, beside his beloved wife Nan.
Mr Stafford died, after a short illness, in Rotorua Hospital on Monday at the age of 82.
Since then his body has lain in state inside Te Arawa's paramount meeting house Tamatekapua at Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu.
Mr Stafford was one of only a handful of Pakeha to have been afforded the honour of having their tangi at the marae.
Before Mr Stafford's burial yesterday his body was taken from inside Tamatekapua by Ngati Whakaue and Te Arawa kaumatua for a short but poignant service at St Faith's Church.
The small church at Rotorua's lakefront was packed with family and friends while hundreds more stood outside, listening to the service on loudspeakers.
As the sun shone through the church's stained glass windows, mourners spoke of the history and contribution of one of Rotorua's leading lights.
The service was led by Bishop Rahu Katene, Archdeacon Joe Huta and the Reverend Tom Poata, all friends of Mr Stafford through his connection with the church.
Tributes were paid to Mr Stafford by his grandchildren and by Te Arawa kaumatua Pihopa Kingi and Don Bennett.
Mr Stafford's grandson Adrian Barlow thanked Rotorua and in particular the people of Te Arawa, for looking after his grandfather for so long.
"For much of his 80 or so years he has been cared for by the people of Rotorua and they have looked after him well - and we thank everyone for that," Mr Barlow said.
Reverend Poata said Mr Stafford would not have liked a fuss but would have appreciated the recognition. "He has inspired generations of Ngati Whakaue and Te Arawa people to embrace their history and learn about their own culture through the many books he wrote.
"He was a very important member of the church and I shall miss him terribly," Reverend Poata said. After the service a hearse took Mr Stafford's casket past his first school, Rotorua Primary and then past one of his favourite places, the Rotorua Museum of Art and History, where a wing is named after him, before heading to Kauae Cemetery near Ngongotaha for his burial.
At his graveside mourners sang songs, accompanied on guitar by the son of one of Mr Stafford's greatest friends, Sir Howard Morrison.
Mr Morrison Jnr lightened the sombre mood alongside another famous Rotorua entertainer, "Aunty" Bea Yates.
Te Arawa kaumatua Pihopa Kingi said it was a fitting farewell for a humble man who made himself known by his intellect, humour and gentle nature.
"He was a great man and this was evidenced by him being loved by so many, be they Maori or Pakeha.
"Te Arawa owe him a great debt for his years of tireless work.
"He was greatly respected and will be sorely missed."