Reticent, resolute, opposing adjectives equally applicable to Wiremu Atetini Te Wharepurangi (Bill) Kingi who died on Wednesday aged 79.

His funeral service is tomorrow at St Faith's Church with which he had a life-long association, as a choir member, vestry chairman and parish treasurer.

Raised in Ohinemutu, Mr Kingi was a pa child who secured the university education his teachers claimed would be out of his grasp, his wife of 50 years, Gay, said.

"At Rotorua High School he achieved all-round excellence but [it was] recommended he do woodwork because he was bound to fail English 1 at university; Bill defied them, enrolling at Victoria [University], passing English with an A minus."


Within two years he'd acquired a Bachelor of Commerce, staying a further year to qualify for entry to the Association of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Chartered Secretaries.

He was also gifted with an outstanding singing voice, honed while at Victoria by a graduate of the University of Napoli (Naples).

It was her future husband's singing that drew his wife-to-be to him.

"I was at a St Faith's wedding, he sang, I said 'I could live with that voice'."

They were introduced, marrying at her Ashburton home.

"Bill chartered a DC3, flew his whanau and Canon Kahu Te Hau down to officiate, he sang She Wears My Ring, everyone howled."

Two children later the Kingi whanau moved to Fiji where their bread winner became financial secretary to multi-national company WR Carpenter.

Seven years on, the New Zealand government appointed him its Cook Islands financial secretary. It's here the focus fell on his character's resolute side.

"Bill discovered funds had been misappropriated to fly in voters pro the Prime Minister, Sir Albert Henry. Bill stood up to him, had him charged."

When his Cooks' contract expired the Kingis moved to Sydney, followed by 12 years in Papua New Guinea where Mr Kingi was financial manager of Air New Guinea, then an international airline.

Returning to Rotorua in 1995, he went into private practice, resuming his connection with St Faith's. Encouraged by the late Bishop Manu Bennett he and his wife founded Opera in the Pa, a 15-year Rotorua success story.

In addition, he's been involved with a legion of Maori trusts and incorporations, including Tuhoe Fisheries, and chaired the Mataikotare marae committee.

His wife described his interests in three words; singing, red wine, golf.

"He never stopped working, instructed us to tell people in his death notice 'due to his demise he's now retired'."

St Faith's vicar, Reverend Tom Poata, called Mr Kingi a major contributor to the Rotorua community, a man whose wit and intelligence was hard to match.

Mr Kingi is survived by his wife, Gay, son Zamon (Canada), daughter Tania (Sydney) and two mokopuna.