Labour MP Parekura Horomia, who represented the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate, has died. He was 62.
Mr Horomia was an MP since 1999 and served as a minister under the previous Labour-led government.
He died at home surrounded by his family at the East Coast settlement of Mangatuna, near Tolaga Bay, late on Monday afternoon.
Born in 1950, Parekura Horomia was of Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga-a- Hauiti, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngai Tahu descent. He worked as a labourer, shearer and qualified printer before moving into the public service.
In the 1999 general election, Mr Horomia stood as Labour's candidate in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and won the seat with a majority of 695 votes.
He became Minister of Maori Affairs in 2000 and three years later had the difficult job of helping usher through the Foreshore and Seabed Act - legislation unpopular with many Maori and which divided Labour's Maori caucus.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand in 2003, Mr Horomia said successive Maori Affairs ministers have had to stand the heat in the House.
"I also have to discipline myself not to get so arrogant that I get nuisanced by the ongoing unnecessary pressure and, to be quite frank, the red-neck scratching.
"There is nothing that tends to excite people in the House than trying to put the tangata whenua (people of the land) against the rest of the nation."
Parekura Horomia was absent from Parliament for much of this year and had been unwell for some time. His body would be taken to Hauiti Marae in Tolaga Bay on Tuesday and he will be buried on Friday.
Mr Horomia is survived by three sons and one grandchild.
Labour family 'heart-broken'
Labour leader David Shearer said on Monday that the party's whanau (family) is heart-broken.
Mr Shearer said Labour has lost a man of immense mana, conviction and compassion and it sends its love and thoughts to Parekura Horomia's whanau, and to all those whose lives he has touched.
Prime Minister John Key also offered his condolences to Mr Horomia's family. He said the Government has enormous respect for the work he did for Maori as a minister and as a member of the Maori Affairs select committee.
Mr Key said he is thinking of Mr Horomia's whanau at this sad time and knows it will be difficult for them to grieve privately for a loved-one who was a very public figure.
Labour MP Shane Jones said his colleague and friend had a gift for bringing people together.
Mr Jones told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme Mr Horomia was so respected by people in his electorate that he was never voted out of his seat, despite defending the unpopular foreshore and seabed legislation.