Rotorua is mourning in the silence left without the "cackling laugh" and strong singing of one of its old-school entertainers - Tai Eru.
Wonderful showman, staunch Rotorua advocate, excellent golfer and Te Arawa kaumatua, Taiwhanake Eru-Morehu, known to most as Tai Eru, died on Thursday aged 84.
The dearly loved husband, father and koro has been the chairman of many Te Arawa trusts, a Bay of Plenty Regional councillor and a performer with the Howard Morrison Quartet.
Eru grew up in Horohoro and was just like "any other kid", said schoolmate John Waaka.
"At that time everybody was singing and entertainment was the biggest thing in this town."
Close friend and fellow quartet member Terry Morrison described him as a "wonderful showman, just a natural on the stage".
"He was almost born with a microphone in his hand."
During the 1960s Eru was the entertainment manager at Tudor Towers, which in its day was the major night spot in the region.
"You had to book a table to get in and there were queues down the stairs to get to your table," Morrison said.
"In those days everyone dressed up to the nines, and Tai was an immaculate dresser."
Eru continued singing and entertaining for many years.
By day he could be found hitting a ball around the golf course.
"Tai was a really good golfer, a very good golfer, much better than me," Morrison said.
In 2013 Tai was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Māori.
In his citation for the honour, it said he was "renowned for the quiet, unassuming way he serves his community".
Eru battled cancer for two years and he was determined to beat it.
In recent months, Morrison said he had been visiting him at home and in the hospital, watching his slow decline.
"He was a very social animal, Tai, and a very generous man.
"We're much the poorer for his passing,"
Friend Ron Little said the thing he would remember most about Eru was his laugh.
"He had that little cackle, that laugh, which we will all miss, it was quite magic."
Regional councillor Lyall Thurston served a "couple of terms" on the council with Eru.
"I found him to be a staunch supporter of Rotorua and a staunch advocate for bringing Māori issues to the table.
"Any debate he entered into was with great empathy and a huge amount of background knowledge on his part."
He said his passing would be a great loss for Rotorua.
"He always pursued initiatives for cleaning up our lakes and that will be one of his great hallmarks."
Close friend and Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick described Eru on a Facebook post as a "wise counsel to so many", with his various roles as a conservationist, entertainer, regional councillor, friend and family man.
"Thank you for your legacy to the kahikatea, the pine seedling nursery and your leadership."
Eru is survived by his wife, Marie, his children Dale, Michael and Shona and his three grandsons.
His funeral will be held tomorrow at St Faith's Church in Ohinemutu at 11am.