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'Dark cloud' over Ngati Porou

Ngati Porou mourns the death of an outstanding leader, Apirana Mahuika.
• Watch Bishop Kito pay tribute 

New Zealand Herald  |  08 Feb 2015

One of the mainstays of Ngati Porou, Apirana Mahuika, has died.

A tribute post on the Ta Kaea Facebook page describing Dr Mahuika's death as a "dark cloud".

"Ngati Porou and the world as a whole mourn the loss of a great and strong leader, Dr Apirana. Legend," the post said.

Dr Mahuika was a Treaty of Waitangi scholar and Maori leader, and an ordained Anglican for more than 50 years.

Producer Bailey Mackey tweeted: "If there is anything mightier than a totara then that's what we have lost today with the passing of Dr Apirana Mahuika."

The Hapai Te Hauroa Maori Public Health posted on its Facebook page: "It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Dr Apirana Mahuika.

"Dr Mahuika of Ngati Porou was a leading force in Maori and iwi development over many years and several of us had the privilege to have crossed paths with him."

Dr Mahuika was honoured by Police Commissioner Mike Bush in October for the "significant work he has undertaken to ensure NZ Police upholds their commitment to Maori and the Treaty".

He was chairman of the Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato.

In 2012 the Royal Society of New Zealand described him as a "leading figure in most of the major political and topical issues that have confronted iwi in recent years".

"His passion for the promotion and protection of Ngati Porou Taonga and Te Reo ake o Ngati Porou is unrelenting and he is committed to the self-determination of Ngati Porou whanau/hapu and to education and the pursuit of excellence in all endeavours."

Former National MP Tau Henare also tweeted a tribute to Dr Mahuika, describing him as "more than a kauri".

"His passing will cut a swathe through the forest," he said.

Dr Mahuika had died early this morning, Mr Henare said.

Others on Twitter described the Maori leader as "one of the greats".

The late Sir Paul Holmes named his son with ex-wife Hinemoa Elder after Dr Mahuika following a helicopter crash in 1989 on the East Coast which took the life of TVNZ cameraman Joe Von Dinklage.

Sir Paul was quoted as saying he would always do right by Maori after the crash, in gratitude for the care he and his fellow survivors received after swimming to shore.

He gave Reuben the name Reuben Thomas Apirana Holmes, after Dr Mahuika, who was known as 'Api'.

"It was deeply emotional and spiritual. We were gathered in the Shanks' house when we got in from the sea," Sir Paul said in an interview with The Listener in 2012.

"Rana [Waitai] arrived in his police commander's car with Api, and Api said, 'Shall we say a prayer?' because Joe was missing.

"Well, I've never forgotten it. That's why Reuben's got his name."

Dr Mahuika will lie in state at Rahui Marae in Tikitiki until Thursday when he will be laid to rest at his whānau urupa, Kaitaha.