One of the Far North's most respected identities, Percy Erceg, died peacefully at his home in Kaitaia early on Sunday morning. He was 90.

Best remembered by many as a prodigiously talented wing and midfield back, who played seven times for the Māori All Blacks and nine times, including four tests, for the All Blacks (1951-52), who sacrificed his career to fulfil his duties as the father of young children, Charles Percy Erceg was born at Waipapakauri on November 28, 1928.

He was at home yesterday, with his family and friends, his All Black cap (#54), a steadily diminishing bag of blackballs, and an Ahipara School principal's award that was presented to his 8-year-old great-grandson Jai Jellich six days before he died.

Drago Yelavich, a friend for decades and for 41 years a fellow Rotarian, said Mr Erceg had been a true gentleman, always considerate of others and rarely without a smile.


He had been president of the Kaitaia Rotary Club three times, a multiple winner of the club's Sterling Service award, and in 2004/05 received Rotary's Sapphire pin, augmenting his Paul Harris Fellowship.

His wife Faye said he had been a very special man, who practised his beliefs and his philosophy every day of his life.

He will be farewelled at St Joseph's Catholic Church tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10.30am, followed by interment at the Kaitaia Public Cemetery.