02 December 2016

Mai i ngā kuri a Wharei ki Tihirau
Mai Maketū ki Taupō
Ko Toi Moana e mihi atu nei
E Rangi, E Papa
Kia ū, kia mau, kia tau ko te mauri
Toi Whenua, Toi Tangata, Toi Moana
Kia ū, kia mau, kia tau ko te mauri
Ko Toi Moana e mihi atu nei

From the ridges of Wharei (Bowentown) to Cape Runaway
From Maketū to Taupō 
We are BOPRC, we greet you

Sky father, Earth mother
We hold fast the vital life essence

Our land, our people, our sea (our environment)
We hold fast the vital life essence
We are BOPRC, we greet you


Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Chair, Councillors and staff have expressed their sadness at the passing of Councillor Awanui Black on Wednesday.

Councillor Black passed away after a short illness, surrounded by his whānau. He had just returned to Council for his second term as Mauao Constituency Councillor. In his first term Councillor Black chaired Komiti Māori, which set the direction for Council’s legislative obligations to Māori across the region.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod said Councillor Black was a highly respected leader, orator and was part of Treaty negotiations in the Tauranga Moana area for his iwi.

“Without a doubt, Awa leaves a big gap at the Regional Council, but he leaves an even bigger gap with his whānau. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his children. Regional Council staff and Councillors have headed to Te Whetu i te Rangi marae to pay tribute to a man who has left us far too soon,” said Ms Macleod.

Councillor Black was instrumental in instilling tikanga Māori and Te Reo at the Regional Council and was behind the Council’s adoption of its Māori name, Toi Moana.

Ms Macleod said Councillor Black composed the Toi Moana waiata earlier this year for Māori Language Week that also inspired a waiata challenge for staff.

“The words epitomise the man he was: the land he was born to and the people he served in our community, our region, Māori and non-Māori, locally and nationally.

“Awa has helped me and my staff, our Councillors and provided a valuable link for the work of Council with local iwi and hapū here in Tauranga Moana. His advice and guidance will be sorely missed by us all in the months to come.”

Regional Council Chair Doug Leeder said Councillor Black was highly respected, both within council and in the community.

“I value the work Awanui did for our Council and he was highly respected by us all and all of Tauranga Moana. He did us proud. He was participant and contributor in every sense of the words.”

Ms Macleod said Councillor Black has been described by staff that worked with him and knew him as a friend, colleague, mentor, guide and a staunch advocate of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori and education.

“Personally I will miss the quiet chats we had,” said Ms Macleod. “He often rang me to share his ideas or to see where he could help. E te rangatira, haere, haere haere atu ra – go in peace Awa.”


Councillor Awanui Black was 48 years old and is survived by his five children.

Funeral arrangements for Council Black are set down for Sunday and interment will be at his whānau urupa.

Pouroto Ngaropo is spokesperson for the whānau.

Councillor Black’s achievements were many and was on the board of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori the Māori Language Commission and was a lecturer of education and Māori epistemologies at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. He was also a member of the Iwi Leaders Working Group on education and a contributor to the Māori language dictionary “He Pataka Kupu”.

Councillor Black was a staunch advocate of te reo Māori and set up Tutara Kauika, the Māori culture group, as a vehicle to revitalise the language and culture of hapū and iwi in Tauranga Moana. Tutara Kauika were regional winners in 2014 and performed at the Te Matatini the national Māori performing arts festival in Christchurch last year.