Tributes are flowing for former Maori All Black and Ngati Wai Trust Board chairman Laly Haddon QSM.
The lifelong Pakiri resident died at home last week aged 74, after being diagnosed and treated for cancer some years earlier.
More than 1000 people attended his tangi on Saturday at the Omaha Marae in Leigh. Among them were Sir Douglas Graham, Winston and Wayne Peters, Sid Going, Waka Nathan, and Shane Jones.
Former All Black (1995-1999) Glen Osborne of Omaha was among the many to call during the week while Mr Haddon lay in state at home and at the marae.
"Dad would have been well entertained by his spectacular friends during his tangi," daughter Olivia Haddon says. "We have been surrounded by so much love and we are still grieving. It was an astounding experience at the marae. I have learned so much about his rich life and the contributions he made to the community. He was admired by so many people.
Ngati Wai Trust Board chairman Haydn Edmonds says it is a sad time for the tribe and community.
"Laly was highly regarded. He was a great New Zealander. I have been down to Omaha Marae and there are a lot of Europeans and Maori from the length of the tribal area who have come to pay their respects.
"He led the tribe for 16 years. He was a gentleman who was as fun and as serious as you can get."
Auckland Council Rodney ward representative Penny Webster says Mr Haddon supported her when she first stood for the former Rodney District. Mr Haddon was a councillor on the old county council.
"He was a great guy. Very concerned about his community. Laly lived life to the full. His Waitangi Day hangi were legendary."
Warkworth event manager Dave Parker says Mr Haddon's contribution to the community has been immense, from sport to politics and whanau.
"He was a great leader of his people. Our district will miss his character, the inspiration and indeed his wonderful sense of humour."
Mr Haddon was behind the creation of New Zealand's first marine reserve at Leigh, served on the Auckland Conservation Board, and was the Hauraki Gulf Forum chairman.
He received a QSM in 2009 for his services to conservation over three decades.
He was father of Olivia and Ben and grandfather to Mataia, Kahurangi, and Isla. Mr Haddon and wife Sharley ran the Pakiri Beach Horse Rides, a popular tourist attraction.
Department of Conservation Auckland Conservator Sean Goddard says Mr Haddon was an environmental leader. He was a "mighty totara" who achieved a great deal for Pakiri, the wider Rodney District, and islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, he says.
"Laly will be sorely missed. He worked closely with DOC and was instrumental in helping form relationships with local tangata whenua over the management of Hauturu-Little Barrier Island."
Mr Haddon helped with predator trapping to save threatened birds at Pakiri. He also worked with Project Crimson to plant hundreds of pohutukawa in the wider area.
Hauraki Gulf Forum chairman and Hauraki District Council mayor John Tregidga acknowledges Mr Haddon's tenure as forum chairman, saying he brought mana and momentum to the job.
Mr Haddon played rugby for Tomarata, Omaha, and Rodney.
Rugby historian Clive Akers says Mr Haddon was usually a No 8, flanker, or lock. He played 77 games for North Auckland from 1963-1973, 23 games for New Zealand Maori from 1964-1973, and was an All Black trialist in 1966.
"For NZ Maori he played alongside many All Blacks, the Going brothers, Tane Norton, Billy Bush, Kent Lambert, George Skudder, Buff Milner, Eddie Stokes, Mike Parkinson, Ken Carrington, Mac Herewini, Ron Rangi, and John Collins.
"He partnered the great Waka Nathan on the side of the scrum against the 1965 Springboks and 1966 Lions. He also played for NZ Maori against the 1971 Lions and 1973 All Blacks."
He played 109 first-class games, scoring 16 tries.
- Rodney Times
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