Tributes continue to pour in for Labour MP Parekura Horomia who died on Monday after battling a number of health issues.
The Maori King and Labour MPs arrived at Hauiti Marae in Tolaga Bay this afternoon for Horomia's tangi and around 12,000 people are expected at the coastal marae north of Gisborne over the next few days.
King Tuheitia and a contingent of Labour colleagues led by David Shearer paid their respects this afternoon.
And Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has added his tribute to the many others already offered.
"Parekura was a big man with a big heart," the MP for Te Tai Tokerau said.
Harawira said they had been good mates for years, "swearing at one another and laughing with one another".
While acknowledging Horomia's distinguished political record, Harawira said his real talent was the fact that even people who didn't agree with him "couldn't help but like the guy".
"Funerals are supposed to be solemn and I'm sure Parekura's will be. But his life was rarely solemn and I intend sharing as many laughs as tears when I send him off" said Harawira.
Body welcomed home
ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin was there to watch
Horomia's body arrive at his marae this morning.
"Parekura Horomia's body was carried on to the marae by two of his three sons, it was followed by a pretty stirring haka, which is something I'm told they pride themselves on here on the coast," he said.
"Then the speeches began and I must say they've been done with a lot of good humour rather than a lot of sadness, obviously a lot of kind words out there about Parekura Horomia."
King Tuheitia and a contingent of Labour colleagues led by David Shearer will pay their respects this afternoon.
Horomia died on Monday, surrounded by family at home, after battling a number of health issues.
Parkin said large numbers of mourners are expected to visit this week.
"This marae is preparing to cater for three lots of 1000 people each day for the next four days for this tangi, and that's to feed them all as well," he said.
"Parekura Horomia represented a huge electorate that spanned from the East Coast down to Wellington and in that time made a lot of friends."
With rain setting in Parkin said an SOS has gone out for more marquee flooring in Tolaga Bay before the first guests arrive.
A large turnout is expected at the 62-year-old's funeral service on Saturday, including MPs from across Parliament.
Horomia was well liked among his colleagues and whanau spokesperson Wayne Ngata said he split his time between his responsibilities at home and in Wellington.
"Politics to a Thursday night, whanau from Friday till Sunday, rugby game on Saturday and back to Wellington on Monday," he told TV ONE's Breakfast.
"His family certainly missed him over the past 30, 40 years, they shared him with maoridom, and that is one of the compromises one has to make entering into that arena."
He said bus loads of people were on their way to the marae and they will be ready to host them.
"Wherever he was he could communicate with people and help people, he served all his life as he was raised to do so," he said.
Politicians will wait until after Horomia's funeral on Saturday before turning their attention to the by-election for the Ikaroa Rawhiti seat.
The speaker will announce to Parliament, most likely next week, that there is a vacancy in the Maori electorate.
The Governor-General will have 21 days to act on the advice of
the Prime Minister and announce a by-election date.