Henare Rakiihia "Uncle Rik" Tau has returned home.
The influential Ngai Tahu kaumatua died on Monday afternoon in Auckland Hospital aged 73. Yesterday, whanau accompanied his body back to Tuahiwi Marae in North Canterbury. Among those waiting to welcome him were his grandchildren Te Rakitaunuku Tau, 15, Rakiatea Tau, 8, and Hamua Tau, 5, and Reriti Tau, 22.
Affectionately dubbed Uncle Rik by many, he was instrumental in the development of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, and led the charge throughout the iwi's Waitangi Tribunal claims and settlement period. He was a lifelong Tuahiwi resident.
Tau was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013, in recognition of his advocacy over the years on behalf of his people and community.
A family statement said he was a "champion hunter-gatherer and had a love for all things sweet", and shared his love, knowledge and wisdom with many.
Tau had suffered from emphysema and a heart condition. He is the third child in a family of seven sisters and four brothers, has four sons and 10 grandchildren.
His funeral service will be held at Tuahiwi Marae on Saturday..
- The Press