Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias has paid tribute to Māori leader Sir Graham Latimer at his tangi in Northland.
Dame Sian was part of the legal team that represented Sir Graham and the Māori Council in their historic Court of Appeal win of 1987, which stopped the transfer of former Māori land to the new SOEs and led to the major settlements of the '90s, including Crown forests and fisheries.
Speaking at Te Paatu Marae on behalf of the government, Dame Sian said that success was born of Sir Graham's wisdom, earned over a lifetime of service to Māori.
Sir Graham was a good and kind man who adored his wife Emily and had a great respect for women, Dame Sian said.
He was a great man, not because of his achievements, but because he was a great human being, she said.
About 300 people have gathered at the marae south of Kaitaia for the tangi, including Labour leader Andrew Little, members of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, the army and iwi leaders.