Reverend Te Napi Tutewehiwehi Waaka OBE, a Te Arawa performer who has been described as "the son of the nation", will be remembered for his willingness to share with every person he met.

Mr Waaka, who was well known for his expertise in oratory, music, kapa haka, and language revitalisation, died yesterday.

Te Arawa kaumatua Trevor Maxwell told the Rotorua Daily Post of his sadness at the news.

"I have been involved with him for a long time. He had a strong affinity for performing arts. It's a sad loss. It's the losing of one of Te Arawa's most talented performers.


"He's influenced a lot of people not only here but all over the country," he said.

"This is a sad loss to all of Te Arawa."

Mr Waaka featured in a documentary earlier this year presented by Rotorua's Kahurangi Maxwell.

Nga Tangata Taumata Rau aired on Maori TV in August.

Miss Maxwell said Mr Waaka was her favourite person she had the pleasure of interviewing.

"It was such a huge privilege that he was available and we were able to go to his home and spend time with him. Of all of the episodes, all were special in their own way, but I remember loving him and thinking how lucky I was.

"He always knew how to connect with people he met, you feel like the most important person around him.

AROHA: Kahurangi Maxwell is sending love to Mr Waaka's family. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
AROHA: Kahurangi Maxwell is sending love to Mr Waaka's family. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

"He shared with us his pearls of wisdom, he would do that with anyone.


"We all knew that he was sick. I feel aroha for his family and Te Arawa, we have lost someone who we were always so proud of.

"He was the son of the nation, he was a nationwide figure, it was hard to claim him as our own because he impacted so many more areas than just Te Arawa," she said.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the Maori Party was mourning the loss of Mr Waaka.

"Our heart and thoughts go out to the Waaka whanau and the people of Ngati Pikiao who have lost a great man," he said.

"Napi had so many gifts and talents. He was one of Te Arawa's most charismatic and creative koeke.

"He was known for his remarkable oratory and he epitomised our tribal saying 'Ko te Arawa mangai nui, upoko tu takitahi."

Mr Flavell said Mr Waaka was respected by many musicians for his ability to compose songs, stun the crowd with his saxophone, and he was also respected for his efforts to revitalise te reo Maori and Maori performing arts as well as being a guiding force behind Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

"I'm really going to miss seeing Napi at the marae. He had the ability to send the entire wharenui into fits of laughter yet make them cry and sing at the same time."

"His whanau can be proud of the legacy he has left behind for his iwi and te ao Maori," said Mr Flavell.

Mr Waaka, a Tainui and Ngati Pikiao descendant born and raised in Mourea, was a graduate of the Trinity Methodist Theological College.

Passionate about music, Mr Waaka was an exceptional saxophonist and, as a young man, was a member of the "Star Boys" (a whanau band) and also the "Tai Paul's Pohutu Boys", one of the leading dance bands in Rotorua in the 1950s.

Mr Waaka also received the 2014 Waiata Maori Music Keeper of Traditions award.

Mr Waaka's funeral will be held at Te Takinga at 11am on Monday, followed by burial at Motutawa.