A spokesperson for the New Zealand Pacific Islands Affairs Ministry has paid tribute to Eti Laufiso, calling her a champion of Pacific grassroots communities.
Ms Laufiso died in Dunedin at the weekend.
The Ministry's director of communication, Magila Annandale, says Ms Laufiso was instrumental in the establishment of the national Pacific women's organisation, Pacifica, in 1977.
She says Pacifica has helped provide a platform for self determination of many of New Zealand's first wave of migrant Pacific women.
Ms Annandale says Ms Laufiso also recognised the importance of education and pushed for targeted Pacific educational strategies.
"She was a champion of promoting early childhood education centres, plus Pasifica or what they call language nests, and they are thriving today in New Zealand. And that is really important in terms of cultural identity, and there is a lot of good research that supports bilingualism and the educational achievements of young people who are bilingual, as opposed to those who are monolingual."