Last flora and fauna claimant dies

6:40 am on 5 September 2011

The last surviving Waitangi Tribunal claimant for the protection and preservation of indigenous flora and fauna has died.

Saana Murray of Ngati Kuri, who was 90, was one of six claimants from six iwi who filed WAI 262 in 1991.

The Waitangi Tribunal released a landmark report on the claim in July and the Government is still considering its response.

The report recommends the reform of laws, policies and practices that affect Maori culture, health and identity.

A relative of Saana Murray says her passing is like losing an oracle.

The chairman of Te Rarawa iwi Haami Piripi says he's lost a relative, a friend, and a colleague.

He says she was the last of a generation of elderly people who had a breadth and depth of Maori knowledge that was unique and powerful.

The Kaitaia kuia (female elder) was also known for her environmental work.

She was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009 for services to the community.

Her funeral is due to be held on Wednesday at Kapowairua-Spirits Bay in the Far North.