Waikato-Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan says he signed the joint management agreement of the Waikato River with Waikato District Council with deep sadness and loneliness
His co-negotiator of the agreement between the iwi, Crown and local authorities, Lady Raiha Mahuta, died overnight at the age of 67.
Waatea News reports she put her final signature to the agreement with council, moving forward a vision she shared with her husband Sir Robert Mahuta to have authority over the river returned to Maori, at 11pm on Monday night.
Tainui trust board member Taitimu Maipi says it was as if Lady Mahuta could finally rest, knowing her part of the work was done.
Mr Morgan told Waatea News he spoke to Lady Mahuta on Monday, and it is a source of great sadness that she will not see the conclusion of her work
Mr Morgan says he will meet with the Prime Minister and Treaty Negotiations Minister on Friday to see if the Waikato River Settlement Bill can be passed through parliament with urgency.