Iwi in Waikato and Tāmaki Makaurau are mourning the death of a senior Tainui kaumatua who played an important role as a tohunga, or expert, providing cultural advice on tribal matters and the kīngitanga.
Eru Thompson, of Ngāti Mahanga and Te Kawerau ā Maki descent, died yesterday afternoon after a long battle with cancer. He was 61.
A Waikato-Tainui spokesperson, Rahui Papa, said he would be sorely missed - not only among his iwi but the wider community, including the Manukau Institute of Technology and kura kaupapa in the Counties-Manukau area.
Mr Papa said Mr Thompson was an accomplished orator and was knowledgeable about karakia, or prayers, and ancient incantations.
Mr Papa said even though Mr Thompson hailed from Ngāti Mahanga, near Whatawhata west of Hamilton, he spent a lot of his time in South Auckland helping to establish places such as Manurewa Marae and assisting with Te Puia Marae.
Mr Thompson was the senior kaumatua for schools in Counties-Manukau, he said, including various community groups making sure they were culturally safe within "Te Kei o Te Waka o Tainui" or the northern half of the Tainui rohe.
Mr Papa said Eru Thompson was especially renowned as the tohunga who lead the rituals to officially open marae, schools and house with the appropriate karakia or prayers.
His body is lying at Makaurau Marae in Māngere. A funeral service would be held on Saturday before his burial at Pukaki urupa.