'He was a pioneering Maori journalist' – TVNZ farewells Whai Ngata after 40-year career

Former TVNZ journalist and head of TVNZ's Maori and Pacific Island programming Whai Ngata has died after a long battle with illness.

TVNZ farewelled former journalist and Maori and Pacific programming boss Whai Ngata, in 2008. Our colleagues at Tagata Pasifika ran this story. Source: Tagata Pasifika

Long-time friend and former TVNZ journalist Pere Maitai confirmed Mr Ngata's death in Auckland overnight.

Mr Ngata was the great-grandson of renowned Maori leader and statesman Sir Apirana Ngata.

Mr Maitai told ONE News his friend came up through the ranks as a journalist at the Auckland Star and Radio NZ.

Mr Ngata and others helped set up the Maori and Pacific unit at TVNZ.

In fact, Mr Maitai said Whai was instrumental, along with Ernie Leonard, in setting up the Maori and Pacific programmes in TVNZ.

The late Whai Ngata, former head of TVNZ's Maori programming.
The late Whai Ngata, former head of TVNZ's Maori programming. Source: Facebook Whai Ngata

Mr Ngata then went on, with former TVNZ journalists Derek Fox and Purewa Biddle to set up TVNZ Maori news programme Te Karere.

He led the Māori department at TVNZ until his retirement in 2008.

"Whai has set the bench mark for a lot of Maori and Pacific Island journalists and programme makers," Mr Maitai said.

His whanau plans to take him back to his hometown of Ruatoria, on the East Coast.