Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has paid tribute to Parekura Horomia at his tangi in Tolaga Bay, saying despite their political differences they were bound together in the common cause of Maori.
Mr Horomia, a Labour Party MP and former Minister of Maori Affairs, died on Monday aged 62.
A tangi is being held at Hauiti Marae in Tolaga Bay, near Gisborne, were Mr Horomia's body is lying in state. He will be buried on Saturday.
In 2003, he had the difficult job of helping usher through the Foreshore and Seabed Act - legislation unpopular with many Maori and which divided his party's Maori caucus.
Mrs Turia said on Thursday she was hurt when Mr Horomia changed his mind and did not cross the floor of the House over the legislation.
Mrs Turia, who resigned from Labour because of the legislation and helped found the Maori Party, said Mr Horomia was very influential in ensuring that other Maori MPs stayed with Labour.
She said if he had walked, it would have begun a new era for Maori.
Mrs Turia said even though they could seriously disagree over issues like that, many things continued to bind them together.