Dr Ian Prior whose funeral will be held at the Old St Pauls church in Wellington this afternoon was one New Zealand's most distinguished epidemiologists, whose career encompassed 50 years of research and action.
A pioneer in social epidemiology, his work in New Zealand and the Pacific has explored environmental and cultural factors that maintain the health of Pacific populations.
The Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs Chief Executive, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, is among those to pay tribute.
"On the culture side of things he was able to show that in fact it was what people eat or do or don't do by way of exercise whether they retain their traditional practices or were more protective of those sort of things which we now take for granted, and fondly remembered by the Tokelauan community."
Dr Colin Tukuitonga.
Dr Prior was also a keen art collector and a patron of the arts.