Police officers and Maoridom are mourning the death of Northland iwi liaison officer, Paddy Whiu.
Sergeant Whiu died at his home in Northland on 10 February, following a short illness.
Aged 62 years and of Ngapuhi and Whanganui iwi descent, Sergeant Whiu served the New Zealand police for 41 years.
He wasn't at Waitangi this year - an absence highlighted in prayers offered for him at the dawn service on Waitangi Day.
Sergeant Whiu was in charge of liaising with Maori wardens at the celebrations for the past two years.
Maori Council deputy chair for Maori Wardens, Des Ratima, says Paddy Whiu had a big heart and his support for the wardens will be sorely missed.
Mr Ratima says he was a strong advocate for the Maori wardens and the need to resource them adequately so they could do their job more effectively in the community.
He says Paddy Whiu had a calm nature and was able to easily cool down heated situations.
Meanwhile, Labour List MP Shane Jones, says Paddy Whiu was the first Maori person in the police to become an iwi liaison officer in Northland.
He says he also brought Maori and the police closer together.
Mr Jones says Sergeant Whiu was a leading personality amongst Northland Maori and was very popular with the kaumatua or elderly folk.
He says he recalls going to many meetings with Paddy Whiu to work out campaigns to stamp out methamphetamine abuse.
Mr Jones says Sergeant Whiu brought the police closer to Maori communities in such a way that he could uphold the peace.
The Maori Party has also paid to tribute to the Ngapuhi policeman saying that Sergeant Whiu was a legend. He had a heart for the community and could operate at both a local and a national level. He truly was a people's man, and a people's cop.
"He helped train Maori wardens in conflict management and negotiation at the Porirua Police College and worked with his people in the north to help keep young men out of prison and find new direction in their lives. He will be known for his calming influence and his ability to work with all levels of the community," said Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia.
Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall says New Zealand Police has lost a mighty totara following the death of Sergeant Patrick (Paddy) Whiu.
In 1997, Paddy became Northland's first Iwi Liaison Officer (ILO) and later began contributing to and facilitating ILO courses at the Royal New Zealand Police College.
In 2001, he received a Queens Service Medal (QSM) for public services in the New Years Honours. In 2004, he was honoured with a Commissioner's Commendation for his role in the foreshore and seabed hikoi, from Northland to the steps of Parliament.
Since 2007, Paddy had played an integral role in the Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Services (MPES) team at Police National Headquarters, forging relationships with Iwi leaders in support of Maori Wardens and led training to build the Wardens' effectiveness and professionalism.
Commissioner Marshall says, "Throughout Paddy's career, he was instrumental in developing relationships between New Zealand Police and Maori, significantly increasing trust and confidence among Maori to work with Police to reduce crime and crashes."