Hundreds of mourners payed their respects to Pita Paraone who was laid to rest in Northland today. He was remembered as an honest politician and a civil servant who served his whānau, his people and the country with distinction.
A man of peace, Paraone was brought to lay before the 500 plus mourners who gathered to pay their final respects, much to the astonishment of his family.
His niece, Michelle Going said they family are overwhelmed at the peoples response to their loss.
"We loved him as a family man," she says. "It's been interesting to see how people have loved him as a community man, as a politician and very, very humbling I think for all of us."
Beyond what the everyone saw, he was a man who lovingly protected the centre of his universe.
"He was extremely private about his his family," says Going, daughter of All Black legend Sid Going.
"They're pretty shy," she says. "It's been overwhelming for them to see all of the different things that he did, the different committees he was on, the different groups that he supported."
Leading the pall bearers for his final walk from Mōtatau Marae were his close relatives. Waihoroi Shortland, whom he led down the isle to marry his wife Rahera. On the right of his feet was Kevin Prime, who alongside the late Erima Henare, he worked together with over many years to lift the health of the people in their community.
Inscribed in lattice on the walls of his house are words that accurately describe Paraone's nature. 'Stamp out anger at your feet"... It's a trait of his that is fondly remembered by members of the public and leaders alike who gathered to farewell him. Among them, the new Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon.
"He was a very peaceful, kind and humble man," remembers Foon.
Te Taitokerau MP, Kelvin Davis echoed those same sentiments.
"He achieved so much in politics and even before he entered into politics," says Davis. "Yet despite all that he achieved and all the positions he held through his work, he always remained humble."
Of all his many designations, the one Paraone cherished most was that of the bellbird.
"He loved the fact that he did so much work for so many people and would always bend over for anybody," says Going. "But I think he appreciated that his family allowed him to do that, they allowed him to serve the community and they took the precious time that they had with him when they could."
Laid to rest at Takapuna alongside his mother, Paraone leaves behind his wife Elva, their three children and their many grandchildren.