Tauranga Moana iwi are mourning the sudden loss of instrumental leader Awanuiārangi Black.
Black passed away at Tauranga Hospital this afternoon surrounded by his whānau and loved ones. His iwi affiliations include Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, and Ngāti Raukawa ki Otaki.
The 48-year-old was a driving force of Māori language initiatives and treaty negotiations.
He was a strong advocate for the "Homai Te Rā" campaign to make an official commemoration day for the New Zealand Wars. He also ensured a Māori presence on his local Toi Moana-Bay of Plenty Regional Council, pushing for compulsory Māori seats.
Awanuiārangi Black was a commissioner at Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) and lecturer at Te Wānanga o Raukawa with a keen knowledge of Māori history and culture.
He was also one of the contributing writers of “He Pātaka Kupu” the first comprehensive monolingual Māori language dictionary.
In 1992 Black established the Tūtara Kauika kapa haka group with a dream to revitalise te reo Māori and the histories of Tauranga Moana.
In 2015 he led his group as the first Tauranga Moana team from the Mataatua regionals to Te Matatini kapa haka nationals in Christchurch.
From 2005-2011 Black was part of the treaty negotiations group Te Au Maro o Ngāti Pukenga covering areas in Tauranga Moana, Hauraki, Maketu and Whāngarei.
He stood as a Māori Party candidate for the Tauranga General seat in the 2011 New Zealand General Elections.
Awanuiārangi Black will lay at Te Whetu o te Rangi Marae in Tauranga.