A Ratana Church minister says Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was a special woman who forced the male institution of Parliament to change its ways.
Hundreds of people attended a memorial service in Wellington on Friday for the long-serving Labour Party MP who died in July after suffering a stroke. She was 79.
Ratana priest Kereama Pene attended the service and says Dr Tirikatene-Sullivan was born into the faith and named by its founder Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana.
He says when Dr Tirikatene-Sullivan entered Parliament in the 1967, she shook up the male culture of snooker and cigar rooms.
He says the MP for Southern Maori would take her babies to parliament and was not shy about nursing them in public.
Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan held the seat for 29 years.