Many mourners were at Tūrangawaewae Marae yesterday to pay respects to former Labour minister Koro Wetere, including Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters.

The Ngāti Maniapoto leader passed away on Saturday after a battle with prostate cancer.

But he's best remembered for the many battles he fought in parliament to advance treaty settlements, te reo Māori and Māori self-determination.

Wetere entered parliament in 1969 as MP for Western Māori.

But it was the 1980's where he achieved his most significant work by introducing legislation allowing historical treaty claims dating back to 1840.

He initiated the Māori Fisheries Settlement and was also a staunch fighter for Māori language.

The Kōhanga Reo movement peaked under his watch and his Māori Language Act accorded Māori language official language status and saw the establishment of the Māori Language Commission.

In 1990, Wetere caused an uproar by replying to questions in the house in Māori.

He refused to supply an immediate translation, contrary to practice, but the wily politician was making a play to affirm the official language status of te reo Māori.

When the Tainui settlement was signed in 1995, Wetere was an opposition MP.

But it was widely acknowledged that he had laid the foundation for this and the many settlements that followed.

And after retiring, Wetere took on leadership roles with the Waikato-Tainui parliament and governance roles of Tainui governance with Tainui Group Holdings.

The former Māori Affairs Minister will lay at Tūrangawaewae until Wednesday; he will be buried in the family cemetery near Te Kuiti.

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