Mourners have gathered to pay homage to Whairiri Ngata, who was instrumental in the establishment of Māori broadcasting, at Hiruharama Marae near Ruatorea.
Mr Ngata, who was 74 and of Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanu, passed away on Sunday after a short illness.
Last night, about 40 broadcasting colleagues accompanied Mr Ngata's body and his whanau onto the marae.
The skies opened and torrential rain poured down as about 100 mourners welcomed Mr Ngata home to Ruatorea, north of Gisborne.
Mr Ngata's 94-year-old mother waited for him on the porch of the family marae as practitioners young and old carried their chief through the gates for the last time.
Tāwhirimātea, the God of thunder, lightning and rain, put on a magical performance with the weather turning from sunshine to storms.
Met Service described the stormy weather as "exceptional" and reported 400 lightning strikes over Bay of Plenty.
The wharenui's single dim light shone out across the almost pitch black marae atea (courtyard) where speaker after speaker weathered the rain to pay respect to the pioneer of Māori broadcasting.
Throughout the pōwhiri, which lasted nearly two hours, thunder clapped loudly and lightning brightened the dark skies. Many of the speakers made reference to the lightning which at times flashed as they spoke Mr Ngata's name.
Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell said that along with the late Ernie Leonard and Derek Fox, Mr Ngata paved the way for the strong Māori broadcasting industry seen today.
His greatest achievement was said to be his work establishing a Māori and Pacific programming unit at TVNZ, which he led for nearly two decades.
Former colleague Tainui Stephens described how sad and disappointing it was for Mr Ngata when TVNZ announced two years ago it would disestablish the unit.
However, his legacy would live on, Mr Stephens said, in the hundreds of staff who had worked under him and were still working in the industry today.
And, like a well-constructed television story, when the pōwhiri came to an end the thunder, lightning and rain disappeared.
Whai Ngata was home.