Tepene Mamaku from Whakatane, who was a driving force in the national resurgence of Kaupapa Waka, an initiative which looks to teach such knowledge as waka history and traditional navigation, has died at the age of 79.
He was affiliated to Mataatua waka, descendants of whom make up tribes that have settled in Bay of Plenty and parts of Northland.
Mr Mamaku was a composer, historian, and a teacher of waka traditions in areas such as haka, prayers, and moteatea or traditional chants.
A close friend, Joe Harawira, says in the 1990s Tepene Mamaku was part of the drive to teach young people about Kaupapa Waka to boost their confidence, which also improved their home lives.
Mr Mamaku's body is currently lying at Taiwhakaea Marae in Whakatane.
His funeral will be held on Sunday.