Former Black Fern Tia Paasi has passed away following illness.

Paasi, who was described as a "powerful front rower" played four tests for the Black Ferns between 2001-2007.

Paasi made her Wellington rugby debut in 1998 announcing her retirement by 2004.

Paasi debuted for the Black Ferns in 2001 against England. She was also a stalwart for Wellington Pride, playing over 50 games and could play at both loosehead and tighthead prop.


She made a remarkable comeback in 2007, when she was selected to play in the Black Ferns' two internationals against the Wallaroos in Wanganui.

"Tia was very proud to have worn the black jersey and represent New Zealand," said General Manager of NZ Rugby Neil Sorenson.

"Tia's teammates describe her as having a heart of gold. They say she was one of those players who was tough on the field, but off the field she was very kind and brought the laughs too."

"New Zealand Rugby's thoughts are with her family and friends at this very sad time."

Paasi passed away aged 48.