Ngapuhi and Muriwhenua iwi are mourning the loss of tribal scholar and leader Rima Edwards, who died on Sunday.
Mr Edwards was chair of Te Runanga o Muriwhenua, which coordinated the claims of people belonging to the five northernmost iwi.
Waatea News reports that it was his evidence that led the Waitangi Tribunal to rule that in many early land transactions in the far north, what occurred was not a sale but a conditional grant of occupation and use rights.
Former Muriwhenua claim researcher Shane Jones MP says Mr Edwards was also valued for his knowledge of the teachings of the Ngapuhi prophet Aperahama Taonui, a founder of the Kotahitanga movement.
''Although he was only in his mid-60s, everyone knew that his knowledge of genealogies was peerless,'' Mr Jones says.
The tangi is at Omanaia Marae in south Hokianga.