Sir Peter Tapsell, the first Maori Speaker of the House, has passed away in his sleep aged 82.
Sir Peter was born and raised in Rotorua. He entered Parliament as a Labour MP in the 1981 election following a career as an orthopaedic surgeon.
He remained an MP until 1996, serving as Internal Affairs Minister, Arts Minister, Police Minister and Defence Minister at various stages of his career.
Sir Peter was speaker of the House from 1993 to 1996. He was the first member of an opposition party to serve as a speaker.
Sir Peter's brother told ONE News he passed away at his Ruatoria farm last night.
United Future leader Peter Dunne, who was a Labour MP up until 1994, says the news of Sir Peter's death is very sad.
He tweeted: "Sir Peter Tapsell was a fine New Zealander in every sense. My deepest condolences and sympathy to his family."
Dunne said his former colleague was a fine gentleman, a good friend and someone who will be sorely missed.
Dunne hopes the high regard in which Sir Peter was held will be of some strength to his family in the difficult days ahead.
Sir Peter's body will be taken to Maketu Marae ahead of a tangi to be held tomorrow.
He leaves behind two sons and two daughters.
- With Newstalk ZB