Tangi for pioneering Ngati Te Ata leader being held at Tahuna Marae in Waiuku
Tributes are flowing for a Ngati Te Ata leader who dedicated her life to protecting the environment and her people.
Dame Nganeko Minhinnick died at the age of 77, and will be laid to rest Tuesday at her family's cemetery, Te Iti o Tahuna Kaitoto, near Tahuna Marae in Waiuku.
She was one of the main forces behind the Manukau Claim brought forward to the Waitangi Tribunal in 1985.
The claim set a benchmark for the protection of natural resources in the Manukau Harbour.
In 1988, Minhinnick represented her tribe at the United Nations on Human Rights and had been board chair of Mana Whenua i Tamaki Makaurau and was on the Community Public Health Advisory Committee.
In 2013, Minhinnick was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of the Merit for services to Maori and conservation.
Minhinnick grew up in a family of 15 children in Waiuku, a small rural community one hour south of Auckland, and from a young age she was earmarked as a future leader of her tribe.
She attended Maori Land Court hearings at the age of 11, and became kaitiaki of Tahuna Marae at 19.
Hauraki Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta said Nganeko's work had helped to introduce Maori concepts and values such as mauri and katiakitanga to policy and legislation like the Resource Management Act.
"There are too few words to encapsulate the inspiration she gave to many people, for this time I want to join with the multitudes and simply say – thank you kia au to moe e te whanau."
Speaking on behalf of Huakina Development Trust, board of trustees chairwoman Kandi Ngataki said Minhinnick was instrumental in establishing the Pukekohe based trust in 1983.
Huakina Development Trust is an organisation helps to provide services for health and wellbeing, education and environment in Franklin.
"The trust acknowledges her for her outstanding record of achievements, her service in recognition in empowering maori, health kaupapa and especially the environment kaupapa."
Ngataki said Minhinnick left an outstanding record of the fight for the rights of her hapu, iwi and tangata whenua.
"Her commitment and passion is a legacy to be celebrated and this will live on into the future generations."
Hunua MP Andrew Bayly said he had great admiration for Minhinnick and her achievements.
"It's the passing of an era for Ngati Te Ata and obviously into the hands of the younger generation.
"She was tough, but she was a lovely person - she was proud herself, but also proud of Ngati Te Ata."