Hundreds gather at marae near Rotorua to mourn Maoridom's most famous weaponry exponent

The body of Maoridom's most famous weaponry exponent, Mita Mohi, has arrived at Tarimano Marae near Rotorua this afternoon.

The Te Arawa kaumatua (elder) died at the weekend, aged 78. 

The body of Mita Mohi has arrived at Tarimano Marae near Rotorua this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Mohi established the taiaha wananga (camp) at Mokoia Island in the early 1980s where he taught thousands of young Maori men, many of them at-risk.

His grandson, Hohua Mohi, said many of those men, who became lifelong friends, had been in touch with his whanau.

"When many people think about my koroua (grandfather), when they think of his name, they always associate him with Mokoia," he said.

"It would've been one of his greatest legacies that he left behind for us.

"So many people have rung in to tell us that without the wananga they wouldn’t have grown to be the men that they are today.

"It really rings true, it’s touched so many lives. The wananga at Mokoia, it's only one wananga, but its roots run deep and they spread far."

"He has influenced the country"

The Rotorua elder died at the weekend. He’s best known for running the Mokoia taiaha learning course on Lake Rotorua for decades. Source: 1 NEWS

Mita Mohi ran the Mokoia taiaha wananga (learning course) out on Lake Rotorua for decades - taking 20,000 young men through the program.

Sir Toby Curtis said that devotion to the discipline put him in the same category as Hec Busby who revived the art of waka hourua - double hulled sailing.

"He has influenced not just Te Arawa but the country," Sir Toby said.

"He preserved that way of life for our people, not just introducing them to [weaponry] but for people to become exponents in [areas] like the taiaha. He saved that part of our traditions.

"He would be one of our leading lights as a cultural exponent... and, he was just a wonderful person."

In his younger days, Mr Mohi represented New Zealand in rugby league, travelling with the Kiwis to France and England.