Former Minister of Māori Affairs Koro Tainui Wētere CBE has died aged 83.
Mr Wētere died at Te Kuiti Hospital in the King Country this morning with family in attendence.
He was a member of Ngāti Maniapoto and served as an MP between 1969 and 1996 for the Western Māori electorate.
He became Minister of Māori Affairs in 1984 when Labour won the election.
In 1990 he refused to translate his speeches given to parliament in Māori into English - one of many steps he took during his career to push the use of Māori langugage in public.
He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1996 New Year Honours.
Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said Mr Wētere was "highly respected across the divide of politics for his sincerity and integrity".
"On behalf of the New Zealand Government I wish to acknowledge the contribution Koro Wētere has made to the country and his remarkable service as a parliamentarian for more than quarter of a century," Mr Peters said.
"He was also instrumental in the complicated resolution of the Maori fisheries settlement during the 1980s.
"His contributions to New Zealand’s modern society include advances in Te Reo language recognition.
"Our deepest condolences are extended to his family and to Ngāti Maniapoto for their loss."