Dr Pita Sharples said the woman who died of Covid-19 on Friday was an integral part of her local marae in West Auckland.
The Ministry of Health confirmed the woman in her 90s died in North Shore Hospital overnight on Friday.
She had a number of underlying conditions and was the 27th person in New Zealand to have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic hit our shores.
“She was one of a number of women who were quite involved in the creation of the marae early on,” Sharples told Stuff.
“There was at least 40 years of action, and she was probably around long before that.”
“She gave quite a considerable contribution. She played a huge part, and right up until recently too.”
The former leader of the Māori Party built Hoani Waititi Marae in 1980.
Sharples called the woman Renata and said she was a key member of Hoani Waititi Marae from the beginning.
Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere referred to the woman as “one of our Māori nannies”.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her condolences to the family and loved ones of the person who died from Covid-19.
“Every death is a reminder of the damage Covid-19 can cause when it gets into our community,” she said.
Renata also led the charge with the West Auckland marae’s peace programmes and youth projects.
The woman had underlying health conditions, which meant it was not clinically appropriate for her to receive ventilator or ICU care.
However, her whānau was regularly updated and was able to speak with her over the phone.
She was a household contact of a case and was confirmed as a case before being admitted to hospital from home on August 28.
Her whānau said they were devastated and shocked by the loss of their loved one and wished to thank all of the essential workers who had helped them over the past days.
Sharples told Stuff the whānau are being supported virtually by close friends.
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