Te Wharehuia Milroy is being remembered as a bastion of te reo Māori and a beacon for the people of Tūhoe, after passing from a long illness in the early hours of this morning.
Mr Milroy, 82, dedicated his life to te reo Māori.
He was a professor of Māori at the University of Waikato, a trustee of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust, and a member of Te Taura Whiri.
He also served as a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.
With Sir Timoti Kāretu and Pou Tēmara, he established Panekiretanga ō te Reo, the Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language.
Mr Temara said he paved the way for the next generation to continue advancing te reo.
"Te Wharehuia taught what he knew. The next generation will take it from there and develop the Māori language, develop new knowledge and develop new philosophies," he said.
"That's the succession plan that Te Wharehuia has been responsible for."
His passing was a great loss for te ao Māori, he said.
"There's no doubt that he is a great loss to Māoridom. He is a great loss to his people in Tūhoe. The things that he imparted will be those things that people will remember him by, and swear by.
"The fact that he is no longer there to be a listening post and to be someone that people could look up to, not just Māori people but non-Māori people, is a significant and immense lost to everyone."
As well as being a long-time colleague, Mr Tēmara also considered Te Wharehuia to be a dear friend.
"I could be saying something and he would come out under me and continue the theory, and continue the debate without the debate losing a beat.
"We established that kind of relationship. We were close, very close," he said.
Mr Milroy's tangihanga will be held at Mātaatua Marae in Rotorua.
Watch a short TVNZ documentary about Mr Milroy from the series Waka Huia