Tributes are flowing for Māori faith stalwart Wally Hayward of Ngāpuhi who died aged 84 years old. The founding member of the Māori Evangelical Fellowship and Prison Chaplin passed away on Wednesday, following a stroke.
Elder Hauraki Ngawaka from Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri pays tribute to his spiritual guide.
"He was absolutely devoted in his faith which showed in his actions. He was tirelessly seeking out and helping struggling families, selfless works," says Ngawaka, "He retained the scriptures and shared his faith."
Hayward became manager of United Māori Missions (UMM) Gillies Ave hostel in Epsom during the early 1960s.
The inter-denominational organisation, which began as the Presbyterian Maori Mission in the early 1900s, ran trades training for young rural Māori men and women at hostels in Auckland and around the country.
United Māori Missions chair Shona Pink-Martin says many of the young people eventually married.
"As a result, Hayward, along with his cohort, founded the Māori Evangelical Fellowship (MEF) in the mid 60s, which was the fastest growing church in the country at the time."
"He was a humble person, who was never centred on his own achievements or viewpoint," says MEF Chair, Hone Hemopo, "he just wanted to speak the gospel."
Hayward also ministered in prison chaplaincy for 33 years at Paremoremo and Mt Eden prisons, having only retired two years ago.
"We did ministry together in prison, I was there with him, in between his comings and goings within the UMM work," says Ngawaka.
Hayward was pastor of Māngere MEF till his passing.
Secretary of Māngere MEF, Kathy Eruera says one of his constant sayings was that he would "never give up serving the Lord until his toes were pointing upwards”.
"A lot of people have come to faith," says Hemopo.
"Those converts have gone to other regions and tirelessly work to share the "good news" - his legacy lives on."
He is survived by three children and many mokopuna.
His burial service will be held tomorrow morning at 10am before he is laid to rest at Māngere Lawn Cemetery.