Respected leader farewelled at Otakou Marae tangi

Hundreds of mourners came together during a tangi yesterday to remember what speakers described as the empathy, wisdom and compassion of former Ngai Tahu chief executive Tahu Potiki.

The highly regarded leader's death in Auckland on Tuesday, aged 52, spurred a flood of tributes and was described as a serious loss for Maoridom.

His tangi concluded yesterday with an emotional service at Otakou marae on the Otago Peninsula, where speakers paid tribute to his life and leadership.

Kati Huirapa Runaka Ki Puketeraki runaka manager Suzanne Ellison described his "wonderful" childhood in Karitane eeling, floundering and fishing, and hearing stories about his ancestors from his father, Les.

"That's where his love of history got started."

A haka and waiata are performed as a procession carrying former Ngai Tahu chief executive Tahu...
A haka and waiata are performed as a procession carrying former Ngai Tahu chief executive Tahu Potiki makes its way from the Tamatea wharenui to the urupa for burial. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
He had forged a remarkable career and would be remembered for his empathy, wisdom and compassion, she said.

His ability to work constructively with people across the political spectrum and from all walks of life was also spoken of.

Mr Potiki was chief executive of Ngai Tahu from 2002 to 2006 during a period of commercial expansion for the iwi, and also sat on health boards around the South Island.

He had remained active within Ngai Tahu after moving back to the Otago Peninsula 10 years ago, and was this year appointed to the Otago Regional Council's
policy committee as a Ngai Tahu representative.

In November 2014, Mr Potiki was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease, receiving a liver transplant in 2017.

His father-in-law, Otakou kaumatua Edward Ellison, said he was receiving treatment in Auckland when he died.

At the conclusion of the service, his coffin was closed and carried out of the Tamatea wharenui and down the hill to the urupa for burial, as members of Dunedin kapa haka group He Waka Kotuia performed a haka and waiata.

He is survived by his wife Megan and three young children.

An obituary will follow.



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