Eastern Bay of Plenty iwi are mourning the loss of one of their finest educators.
Wiremu Karuwha Tawhai, or Bill Tawhai, as he was widely known, has died in Whakatane at the age of 77.
Mr Tawhai started teaching in 1957. His career included stints in England and North America and 16 years as principal at Te Whanau-a-Apanui Area School.
After retiring, he taught at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, where he worked on a thesis on the Maori lunar month.
Waatea News reports he also had acting and agony-uncle roles with Maori Television.
Te Whanau-a-Apanui kaumatua Te Kepa Stirling says Mr Tawhai's skills will be hard to replace and that he was a role model for Maori.
Wiremu Karuwha Tawhai is lying at Omaia marae.
No reira e te rangatira, takoto mai, moe mai ra.