Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has a special link with Rotorua and for a retired local journalist his death has sparked warm memories of Tutu's visit to Ohinemutu in 1983.
Tutu, 90, died on December 26 in Cape Town, South Africa and an official state funeral will be held for him on January 1.
A contemporary of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu was one of the driving forces behind the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his role in the struggle to abolish the apartheid system enforced by the white minority government.
Rotorua resident Micheal Smith, 70, said he was there when Tutu visited Ohinemutu in August 1983 and captured an image of a woman giving him a hongi during the pōwhiri.
Smith said he was working as a freelance journalist at the time and decided to enter a one-off fundraising photographic competition called 'A Day in the Life of Rotorua'.
He said in August 1983 it was reported that more than 5000 people were either unemployed or on special work schemes in Rotorua.
Smith said the competition was organised by the then-YMCA leader Laurie Durant and the proceeds went towards funding more employment programmes in the area.
After reading in the Rotorua Daily Post that Tutu was to visit Ohinemutu, he grabbed the opportunity to snap his image and even won first prize with it, he said.
"At the time I was using an old school camera and because I didn't have a light meter I had to guess whether I had the right lighting.
"The image was a bit darker than normal. But it was really effective and quite moody being a black and white photograph. I remember feeling like I was walking on air."
"I won the $100 which was a lot of money for a freelancer in those days, and I still look at this image which is hung in my office at home often with great pride.
"I always admired and looked up to Archbishop Tutu. He was a great man, a gentle, kind person, and a great ambassador for peace."
Smith said Archbishop Tutu had a special light or aura radiating from him that day.
"I knew I was in the presence of a special person and so was the woman who was giving him a hongi, and you could see it on their faces they really respected each other."
Smith, who is a writer, editor and retired book publisher, said he was deeply saddened by Tutu's death but had immense pride in having participated in a special moment in history.
Ngāti Whakaue leader Monty Morrison said he was also there that day at Te Papaiouru Marae and endorsed Smith's sentiments about how highly regarded and respected Tutu was.
"It was an honour and privilege to have such an iconic and wonderful world figure visit our marae, and for him to spend some time with us."
Morrison said although he cannot remember the exact tenor of Tutu's speech, he was "relaxed, very jovial and very respectful of the powhiri protocols and spoke accordingly.
"Archbishop Tutu was a man of great mana. You knew you were in the presence of someone very special and there are few individuals who command the respect that he did by their mere presence.
"We have certainly lost someone special and his visit to Ohinemutu has become a special part of our history."