"A joy", "an exceptional man", "a legacy that cannot be measured".
These are just some of the ways the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand leaders have paid tribute to Sir Wira Gardiner, who died at home with his family in Gisborne yesterday.
Born in Whakatāne, Gardiner held many influential roles, including as a founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal.
He is survived by his wife Hekia Parata, a former National MP, their two children, his three children from his previous marriage to former MP Pauline Gardiner, and many mokopuna.
Rotorua-based Labour list MP Tāmati Coffey said Gardiner was "just a joy."
Coffey said Gardiner could be found at every event or function across Auckland, Wellington, and even Rotorua - "he was that kind of man".
"He's a wheeler-dealer in the best possible way - and that's a tribute to his success."
Coffey said Gardiner was "the guy that liked to do the work in the background".
"He was incredibly connected, incredibly intelligent, and knew how the political system worked...the bulk of his work was actually done behind closed doors."
Coffey said Gardiner's time as acting chief executive of Oranga Tamariki was "crucial", praised his ability to "work with political parties of both kinds".
He said this bipartisan attitude was an example for political leaders to take forward.
"Sometimes we get a bit tribal about which side of the political fence we sit on, but he's somebody that sends a message and teaches me that actually, it's good to be able to work across the aisle."
Ngāti Ranginui iwi chair Donna Gardiner said Sir Wira "will be sorely missed".
"He inspired leadership in others by just a few words or sentences that resonated in a very personal way."
While they have the same surname, Donna said they "found out that [we] were actually from different Gardiner family lines or whakapapa".
"He didn't actually believe that we were not related."
She said Gardiner was generous with his advice and knowledge and "influential amongst not just Māori communities but New Zealand as a nation and the world".
"There are not many left of his ilk and we each have a responsibility to pick up on where he left off. Leadership is a collective responsibility is what I took from Ta Wira."
Tauranga Commissioner Shadrach Rolleston said Gardiner was " a key figure in shaping Māori-Crown relations".
"He loved a challenge, particularly relishing large and complex, nation-shaping issues.
"His objective was always to find a mediated resolution, even if that resolution may not have been to everyone's satisfaction."
Rolleston said Gardiner's legacy showed the importance of continuing to develop the relationship between Māori and the Crown.
"He was always focused on a clear, negotiated outcome and led from the front.
"Wira was a fan of taking time to develop and build relationships to understand perspectives. You can't underestimate the value of a cup of tea.
"No reira e te kakariki, tatakura hāere, hāere, hāere atu ra."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Gardiner had "a legacy that cannot be measured".
"Throughout his many roles it has always been clear that he has been there to improve the lives of others, and he did.
"His legacy has helped shape Aotearoa."
National Party leader Chris Luxon offered his condolences to Gardiner's family, calling his passing "a great loss to Māori, to Aotearoa New Zealand and to his iwi and whānau".
"Sir Wira was an exceptional man, dedicated to serving New Zealand and making it a better place for all.
"He was often called upon to resolve issues that no one else could, particularly when they involved Māori-Crown relationships.
"Not many people have or will ever make the kind of contribution to this country that Sir Wira did."
Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson recalled a story from Gardiner, who he said was told by a teacher at age 15 "he should leave school and go work on the railway because that was the limit of his capacity".
"This man's capacity for service had no limit."
"Although he is no longer with us, his stories and his books will inspire many generations of Māori for years to come.
"Today our thoughts are with Hekia, his tamariki and his wider whānau.
"We thank them for sharing Wira with us all."
New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters offered his condolences to the family and said New Zealand should celebrate "a life so meaningfully lived."
"So many of us will remember and miss him being deeply indebted to an exceptional personality."
"If there are great role models, then Sir Wira is certainly one of them."