People say he was a big man with an even bigger heart who only saw the good in people, even if they were wrong.
It was those traits that meant Rotorua's Louis Te Kani was a highly respected lawyer and those close to him say his death on Friday will leave a big gap not only among the legal fraternity but also Māoridom.
Te Kani (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pukenga) was laid to rest on Monday at Matapihi in Tauranga after lying in state at Mātaatua Marae in Rotorua and Hungahungatoroa Marae in Tauranga.
He died at the age of 57 following renal failure and leaves behind his wife, Celia Solomon, and children.
Born and bred in Tauranga, he practised law for most of his 21-year career in Rotorua.
A staunch advocate for not only the law but the Labour Party, Te Kani tried his hand in politics in 2011 standing in the Waiariki electorate but lost to the Māori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell despite getting 25 per cent of the votes.
Judge Maree MacKenzie said the judges of the Rotorua District Court were saddened about Te Kani's death.
"Louis was a gentle giant. He was a humble person and a lawyer of great integrity, empathy and humanity. We admire his perseverance with the law, when he himself faced health challenges. He did not shy away from representing any person who asked for his help and had a particular interest in youth law and acting for young people in the Youth Court and the Rangatahi Court."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said Te Kani was a wonderful lawyer who was an integral part of Te Hunga Roia Rotorua (New Zealand Māori Law Society).
"He was known for his services to those who most needed help and a story was told (at his tangi) by his son how he worked even in the last days of his failing health.
"He was a fierce advocate with a generous heart that matched his stature and that was obvious by the attendance of many of the judiciary who attended in his honour."
Chadwick said she admired his politics and she said it was especially fitting given Te Kani's strong ties to the Ratana Church that former Labour MP Mita Ririnui held a Ratana service for his tangi.
Te Kani's son, Ebrahim Solomon, who gave the eulogy at his funeral, said his father had a fixation with politics and ran an election campaign called "Louis in the labourhood".
He joked his father was so fixated with Labour, he even planned his nehu (funeral) to be on Labour Day.
Solomon spoke of his father's unbreakable bond with his best mate and soul mate, his twin brother Neil Te Timatanga.
"Being a twin is like being born with a best friend."
They would often be found ringing each other 10 times a day and the family conceded his twin was his favourite person in the world.
He also paid tribute to his father's selfless love of all children.
"He will be remembered for his big heart. He will be remembered for his big smile.
Ultimately he will be remembered for taking on father figure to every Solomon child. The ultimate selfless act, fathering kids irrespective of blood. The greatest testament of a man."
The family's tangi message said Te Kani was "A larger than life Māori lawyer. A big man with an even bigger heart".
Former business partner Rob Vigor-Brown said Te Kani was a tōtara of the Rotorua legal fraternity.
"He was a mountain of a man, a forceful and fearless advocate who was realistic but always had the welfare of Māoridom at heart.
"He had a lovely way of speaking. He was a gentle giant with a powerful voice but a delicate touch such as to engage judges, and, often very successfully, on behalf of his clients."
Vigor-Brown said Te Kani had a love of the law, was a diligent worker, had a fine sense of humour and a certain charisma.
"His passing is a tragic loss for the bar and he will be deeply missed.
Former legal partner Martin Hine described Te Kani as a doyen of the Rotorua bar and his death was "tragic news".
Hine said he did not perform haka in his English culture, but if he did he would do one for Te Kani.
"But we do cry tears from the heart and many, many will be spilled for our loss of his friendship and life."
Tauranga City Council commissioner Shadrach Rolleston paid tribute to Te Kani at the beginning of yesterday's council meeting.
Fellow lawyer Annette Sykes said Te Kani was always larger than life whether as a member of the legal profession or as a proud practitioner of tīkanga in the many roles he undertook for his whānau, hapu and iwi over his career.
"He will be sorely missed by his people of Tauranga Moana and those who came to love and respect him in the hinterland of Te Urewera where his life partner hails from.
"He was always in the courts for those downtrodden by life's ups and downs and his contagious smile would uplift even the least optimistic of those he represented.
"No doubt he will be regaling tales with other practitioners of the Rotorua bar who he has now joined. So many of them taken too soon. Moe mai e te rangatira."